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Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Commit $4.5 Million to Head Start Programs in Detroit

New Fund Will Support Program Innovation, Quality Improvement and Coordination
    DETROIT, MI, March 06, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The Southeast Michigan Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, a group of funders working together to support early childhood education, announced the formation of a new $4.5 million fund to benefit Head Start programs in Detroit. The Detroit Head Start Early Childhood Innovation Fund will award competitive grants to newly selected Detroit Head Start grantees to foster innovation and collaboration and to support higher quality services and stronger outcomes for young children and their families.

"Community support is essential to the success of the Head Start program," commented Ann Linehan, Acting Director of the Office of Head Start. "What the Collaborative is doing in Detroit provides a model for how the philanthropic community can work to support high-quality Head Start services in communities across the country.

The Detroit Head Start Early Childhood Innovation Fund was created by the Collaborative in response to a federal competition for $48 million in Head Start funding in Detroit and is the only such fund in the country. The city was one of five sites selected in 2013 to take part in a unique pilot opportunity where applicants were allowed to propose a "birth-to-5" approach to Head Start services. The applicants were afforded more flexibility in the use of the funding so that they could better target vulnerable children and create a seamless experience, combining Early Head Start services (pregnant women, infants and toddlers) and Head Start (preschool-aged children) with a single funding application.

The Office of Head Start recently announced the following Detroit organizations with winning proposals: Matrix Human Services, Metropolitan Children and Youth, New St. Paul Tabernacle and Starfish Family Services. They are now in negotiations to receive the federal funding.

These organizations proposed strong early childhood models in high-need areas of the city and will share the $48 million in federal funding to provide comprehensive Head Start services to children birth to age 5 living in poor families. More information about the pilot program can be found in the federal announcement of the winners:

The Detroit Head Start Early Childhood Innovation Fund will provide private matching dollars to fund innovative strategies proposed by these winning organizations. The grant can be applied toward the Head Start requirement that a portion of each Head Start grantee's funding come from non-federal sources. Funds will be granted over a period of three years.

The innovative models proposed by the winning applicants should help promote stronger outcomes for poor children and families and support economic revitalization in the city. A wealth of economic research shows that smart investments in early childhood education are proven to fight poverty by delivering strong academic, social, and economic outcomes not just for children, but for their families and communities where they live. Research from University of Chicago economist and Nobel laureate James Heckman has shown that every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood programs for disadvantaged children returns 7 to 10 percent per child, per year for the life of the child, through increased lifetime earnings and reduced costs in remedial education, health care, and criminal justice system expenditures.

"Head Start's focus on providing comprehensive services to support lifelong success is directly in line with our efforts to create pathways out of multi-generational poverty," commented Carla Thompson, vice president-program strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. "Supporting innovation and partnership among the Head Start grantees in Detroit presents an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty for the city's youngest, most vulnerable children."

The Collaborative is a group of philanthropic organizations that includes the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Skillman Foundation, the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the McGregor Fund, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, The Jewish Fund and the PNC Foundation. Fund activities will be managed by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

"This is a time of great opportunity and promise for early childhood education in Detroit and we are pleased to be a part of supporting innovative, evidence-based approaches that will make a difference in the lives of children and their families," said Wendy L. Jackson, deputy director, Kresge Foundation. "Our goal is to help strengthen collaboration and learning among the entire network of early childhood support in Detroit--Head Start grantees, schools, social service providers, and community-based programs."

"Government leaders from President Obama to Governor Snyder to Mayor Duggan have recently stressed the importance of quality early childhood education," said Ric DeVore, PNC regional president for Detroit and Southeast Michigan, speaking on behalf of the PNC Foundation. "PNC's support of early childhood education is a strategic investment designed to help broaden the opportunities for social and economic mobility among at-risk children."

The Fund will consider proposals from selected Detroit Head Start Grantees for initiatives that will promote and increase child school readiness, through initiatives such as increasing parent engagement and involvement in programming; supporting continued professional development; improving alignment and ensuring better transitions between Early Head Start and Head Start and the K-12 system; improving integration of technology in curriculum assessment and data collection; and improving child and family health outcomes and overall wellbeing through two-generation strategies. Information about grant guidelines and eligibility can be found at

"Quality early childhood development focuses on the whole child: education, health, emotional development, and family environment," said Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. "We know these investments result in individuals who achieve more, need less support, and contribute to a more prosperous southeast Michigan."

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations committed to the future of southeast Michigan, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $598 million through more than 47,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties. For more information, please visit

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