The SUYI Early Learning Program partners with families, teachers, administrators, care providers, and the community to collectively ensure children are ready to flourish in Kindergarten and thrive in life. We focus on adults (parents, caregivers, early learning providers) to ensure they have the knowledge, skills and resources to raise children from birth to age five. The Early Learning Program uplifts both the uniqueness of each child and the whole family's leadership while upholding family identities, such as race, culture, and language, as assets. We conduct our community-led work with a lens of racial equity, accessibility, collaboration, respect, cultural relevance, and language inclusivity.
Our early learning work can be organized into three capacity building strategies:
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Investing resources in early childhood care and learning is “among the most necessary and effective steps for narrowing social and economic inequalities” (Chaudry et al., 2017). Since the 1970’s scholars have documented the effectiveness of early childhood education as a part of improving the academic, social, and economic success of children, and have concluded that money spent on high-quality early childhood education is returned manifold through multiple factors including fewer grades repeated, lower rates of special education, higher rates of high school graduation (Campbell et al., 2014; Lynch, 2004; Rolnick & Grunewald, 2003).
The Seattle University Youth Initiative (SUYI), under the umbrella of the Center for Community Engagement, seeks to increase high school graduation rates for students living in the neighborhoods surrounding Seattle University, while enriching and deepening the learning and scholarship of Seattle University students and faculty. Principles of the initiative include
1) equal emphasis on campus and community impact
2) long-term vision and commitment
3) use of a collective impact approach
4) pursuit of anti-racist principles
5) focus on assets and strengths.
Most of this work has been focused on the K-12 spectrum, with an emphasis on developing a cradle to college and career pathway of support for children and families who live in the area. To understand how SUYI might extend its focus to include early childhood supports, SUYI conducted a study of the current needs, programs and gaps for early childhood interventions in the region. We asked how can we build on current early childhood support systems, programs and policies that currently exist?
The planning process was initiated at the start of a multi-year effort to better engage the Seattle University community with families, public systems, and community-based organizations to improve kindergarten readiness. Additionally, the Bainum Family Foundation was interested in identifying and supporting scalable and high impact opportunities to improve learning outcomes nationwide.
Download the full report PDF: Early Learning Capacity Building Project - Full Report 2018
These documents are not intended to serve as final or formal research, but demonstrate the learning process of the Committee. Please do not distribute or reproduce without permission from the Seattle University Center for Community Engagement.