In this new blog series on community coalitions, we start by highlighting the recent Indiana Coalition Summit. Be on the lookout for future blog posts related to community coalitions!
In 2016, Transform Consulting Group managed the planning for the first annual Indiana Summit for Economic Development via Early Learning Coalitions (aka the Indiana Coalition Summit), hosted at the Horizon Convention Center in Muncie, in partnership with Muncie BY5, Early Learning Indiana, and Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC). This was the first statewide event dedicated to bringing together early learning, business, education, civic, and other community leaders to understand the business case for investment in early childhood. As well, the Indiana Coalition Summit delivered ways to develop and sustain an early learning coalition in one’s community, whether rural, suburban or urban. That gathering attracted over 500 attendees across all sectors and affirmed the need for early learning coalitions in the state.
Continuing with that momentum, Transform Consulting Group led the planning and execution of the second annual Indiana Summit for Economic Development via Early Learning Coalitions, this time held on June 5, 2017 at the Monroe County Convention Center in Bloomington. The Summit attracted close to 400 attendees, many of them connecting to the Summit for the first time. This year, Transform Consulting Group and the planning team, consisting of representatives from Monroe Smart Start, Muncie BY5, ELAC, and Early Learning Indiana, honed in on connecting the “soft skills” (or executive functioning skills) that employers desire in today’s workforce with investing in early learning.
The morning of the Indiana Coalition Summit focused on building awareness around the need for early learning support, especially for the non-early-learning professionals in attendance. Erin Ramsey with Mind in the Making, The Bezos Family Foundation kicked off the day with a presentation outlining how investing in early learning shapes the workforce, linking executive functioning skills in children to skills desired by employees (i.e. reflecting, analyzing, and evaluating). This was followed by a short presentation about the current landscape for economic development and early learning from the State’s perspective by Kevin Bain, CEO and Executive Director of the Welborn Baptist Foundation in Evansville and the Chairman of ELAC.
In his presentation, Bain highlighted information shared in the most recent ELAC Annual Report including the online county profiles (now available through the ELAC website) about “where” Indiana currently is related to key early learning measures, and “what” Indiana should do to improve.
The lunch presentations kicked off with Jeffery Connor-Naylor from ReadyNation debuting a recent Indiana brief outlining how developing social-emotional skills in early childhood positively impacts future workforce success. Particularly, the necessity of employees being capable of developing and sustaining relationships. The keynote presentation was given by Dr. Tim Bartik from the W.E. Upjohn Institute in which he made the economic case for investing in early learning. He shared data such as per dollar invested, early childhood programs increase the present value of state per capita earnings by $5.00 – $9.00. Dr. Bartik also shared that the costs for investing in early learning are modest, giving the example of universal full-day pre-K for 4-year-olds costs about 4% of what we pay for K-12.
Community Coalition Workshop Sessions
The afternoon breakout sessions focused on supporting attendees who are developing community early learning coalitions. These sessions were framed around the forthcoming Community Coalition Building Toolkit being developed by the ELAC Provider Participation and Advancement workgroup.
Transform Consulting Group’s President, Amanda Lopez, led the session “Creating a Collective Vision/Plan”, utilizing her experience developing strategic plans and working with community coalitions. In her presentation, Lopez reviewed the four steps of strategic planning (detailed in this previous blog): 1) Collaborate; 2) Assess; 3) Facilitate Consensus; and 4) Create the Plan.
The Indiana Summit for Economic Development via Early Learning Coalitions is a shining example of an event that brings together stakeholders from different sectors for a common goal: to have thriving communities by investing in early learning. It laid the groundwork for how to have different, and even unusual, partners work together while also giving attendees the chance to network and receive training on developing their community coalition.
If your organization is interested in connecting with or starting a community coalition with a focus on early learning, check out the resources available from the Indiana Coalition Summit on the Indiana Summit Resource Page or contact us at Transform Consulting Group to get connected!