Priority 5: Invitational Priority - Encouraging Private Sector Support

The Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Health and Human Services are particularly interested in applications that describe how the private sector will provide financial and other resources to support the State and its Participating State Agencies or Participating Programs in the implementation of the State Plan.

Comments

Dear Secretary Duncan and Secretary Sebelius:

Thank you for your work to support quality learning opportunities for every child from birth through college. Thrive by Five Washington and all of our partners are extremely enthusiastic about the opportunity to apply for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, and we believe that Washington is well positioned to submit a competitive proposal as this opportunity builds upon key reforms that we have prioritized in Washington State.

Thrive by Five Washington is a public-private partnership that supports early learning in Washington state by bridging public and private sector priorities and resources. The private resources that Thrive by Five Washington brings to Washington have enabled crucial pieces of our early learning system to move forward. We have raised private funds to support the development, evaluation, and validation of key early learning efforts including Washington’s QRIS system, Seeds to Success, WaKIDS, Washington’s Kindergarten assessment, and Love.Talk.Play, Washington’s primary parenting and outreach strategy. We have also raised considerable private money to create a Home Visiting Services Account, which uses private resources to develop a scalable, well evaluated home visiting system in Washington that is built up on the state and federal home visiting investments. Most importantly, Thrive by Five Washington has been able to raise awareness, support, and champions from the private sector, including leaders in business, philanthropy, and across local communities.

These efforts are critical to building a strong, scalable, and sustainable early learning system in Washington state, one that will be supported locally long after the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge funds are exhausted. It is for this reason that we respectfully urge you to consider making the invitational Priority 5: Encouraging Private Sector Support an absolute priority of the grant. We respectfully urge DOE and HHS to consider including two examples of private sector support (a) private funding demonstrated in terms of grants and in-kind assistance, and (b) a public-private partnership, working with the state agency to fund and sustain key projects.

In terms of the absolute priorities, we are confident that the work we’ve done developing and testing our QRIS and a kindergarten assessment process in Washington will form the basis of a strong proposal for Washington. We have been focused on getting the models right, validating and evaluating, ensuring we have completed sufficient outreach, and making informed revisions before statewide roll-out. We are creating a deliberate system, one that is well researched and tested, and then scaled. We are proud of these efforts, and are excited to highlight these efforts and others in our Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge proposal.

Jackie Bezos
President, Bezos Family Foundation
Chair, Thrive by Five Washington

Private sector may be more inclined to participate in providing financial and other resources if this program can decrease crime, gang wars, poverty, and raise the level of civic awareness in the general masses. It is a daunting challenge but it is doable if everybody is on the same page.

Private sector may be more inclined to participate in providing financial and other resources if this program can decrease crime, gang wars, poverty, and raise the level of civic awareness in the general masses. It is a daunting challenge but it is doable if everybody is on the same page.

Along with including the private sector resources, please remember that there may be local municipal efforts that could be included in providing resources as part of a state-wide plan.

Unfortunately, all too often the private sector will help out only when they see something in it for them, supporting approaches that lead to profits for them in the future. DOE Chief of Staff Weiss recently wrote an article in which she emphasized the potential financial payoffs for the private sector because of the national standards and tests. Nothing was mentioned about the payoff for children.

Why is the Sec of Education so interested in this?

Too often, those of us at the state level assume that private support means we have to go out and round up businesses to put money behind early education. While that is helpful when possible, it is neither sufficient nor essential. Business leaders can give much more than money, including their considerable policy and political voice in the benefits of early investment.

In addition, so much of early care and education is paid for now by parents and supported by the philanthropic sector that we must include and tap into a fully engaged partnership with them.

Outside entities will never fund the sustainable operation of early care and education. They can, however, provide influence and support, strategic communications and accountability expertise on an ongoing basis.

Further, they can (and will, I believe) fiscally support start up and early infrastructure costs including training, data systems development and refinement, research and evaluation, and some flexible funding for entrepreneurial approaches to systems development.

Let's be sophisticated in our thinking here.

JM Gruendel, CT