The National League of Cities thinks the nation can learn a lot from Kansas City’s work in educating its youngest children.
The league chose Kansas City as one of seven members to take the lead in a yearlong project to compile the best communitywide strategies for helping children in their first five years.
The seven cities join nine others through the Center for the Study of Social Policy in hopes of designing “a playbook” for other cities to follow.
“A lot of attention is focusing around early learning now,” said Tonja Rucker, the program director for early childhood at the National League of Cities. “But Kansas City and Mayor (Sly) James were engaged before the frenzy.”
The league of cities noted several Kansas City programs and partnerships, including Turn the Page KC and Talk, Read, Play.
Many local efforts were on display a year ago when the city, the Family Conservancy and the U.S. Department of Education hosted a community workshop on early education.
“Local innovation is where it’s at,” Rucker said. “We want to connect researchers and leaders to the work that’s going on.”
The Bezos Family Foundation is supporting the initiative.
Other cities named to the network by the National League of Cities are Dayton, Ohio; Jacksonville, Fla.; Minneapolis; Pittsburgh; San Francisco; and Portland, Maine.
They are joining with the communities gathered by the Center for the Study of Social Policy — Alameda County, Calif.; Boston; Denver; Hartford, Conn.; Kent County, Mich.; Lamoille Valley, Vt.; Orange County, Calif.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; and Ventura County, Calif.