Research shows a link between the inability of children to read at grade level and a variety of challenges later in life. In an effort to improve grade level reading proficiency throughout Greater Kansas City and take steps to prevent deficiencies from occurring, the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce has established a Big 5 idea focused on early childhood education.
Co-champion Kay Barnes is the former mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. Today, Barnes serves as Distinguished Professor for Public Leadership and Founding Director, Center for Leadership, Park University, Hauptmann School for Public Affairs.
Co-champion Carol Marinovich served 10 years as Mayor of and Mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas. She is currently an adjunct professor at Donnelly College.
Co-champion Tracy McFerrin is Vice President and Secretary of the Hall Family Foundation, a private philanthropic organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of human life in Greater Kansas City. Tracy directs the Foundation’s grant making primarily in the areas of early education, K-12 education, and community development.
The Mission of this Big 5 initiative is to collaborate with education stakeholders throughout Greater Kansas City to connect every child, every family, and every community with the resources necessary to launch successful educational careers on the first day of kindergarten.
The KC Chamber’s efforts in this initiative will be organized into three strategic levers – the “ABC’s” of this initiative: 1) assessment 2) buy-in, and 3) collaboration.
A. Assessment: With input from regional education partners and research experts, the KC Chamber will gather and analyze data — both existing and new — to assess the current and future early childhood education conditions.
Data collection to assess the status of early childhood education region-wide; and ongoing data collection to assess progress made through collaboration and investment.
B. Buy-In: The KC Chamber, with the assistance of many community partners, will bring resources to the organizations that can have the greatest positive impact on regional education outcomes.
The identification of resource needs;
The identification of available resources; and
The connection of high value tactics to resources.
C. Collaboration: The KC Chamber and regional education partners will convene an organizing group to fully assess our early childhood education landscape and tactics for improvement.
The construction of a strategic framework setting forth common goals and specific tactics that can be implemented to improve early childhood education throughout the entire Greater Kansas City region;
A common understanding of the data needed to assess early childhood education outcomes; and
A shared vision of success.
Under the leadership of the initiative’s Co-Champions, the KC Chamber has assembled its coordinating committee to begin the strategic visioning process.