Vision Together 2025 is working with several partner organizations to develop an Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) with a mission of improving the educational, health, and social needs of our youngest, most vulnerable residents (birth to age 8). The collaborating partners include the 1889 Foundation, 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health, United Way of the Laurel Highlands, Lee Initiatives Health & Wellness Endowment, and Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.

The effort is a priority under the Health & Wellness Priority Goal established through the community’s Vision Together 2025 framework.

The partners listed have issued a request for proposals aimed at hiring a consultant to convene the community-based early childhood organizations, determine the current capacity of existing resources and potential gaps, establish a baseline of current outcomes for young children, identify opportunities for improvement, propose a backbone structure/model, and develop an action plan resulting in measurable objectives to improve the educational, health, and social outcomes of our youngest residents.

By age group, children are the poorest in the country, accounting for over 31% of people who are under-resourced. One out of every five children experience poverty and one in three children is living impoverished for at least parts of their childhood.

“Developing an Early Childhood Initiative and prioritizing resources towards this population has been a goal of many of these organizations for several years,” Vision Together 2025 Health and Wellness Priority Goal Leader, Sue Mann said. “We believe this initiative is vital for the community and will help positively impact our children’s future.”

Mann added, “There are many community-based organizations in our region who work with the early childhood population. Instead of working separately, our collaborating partners proposed a systems-wide approach which will bring together all of these agencies. Creating and implementing an Early Childhood Initiative is a common goal shared by the partner organizations, and we felt it would be more impactful as a group approach. We are excited for the future of this project and know it will be a necessary resource for our community.”