Mountain View, CA (PRWEB) April 04, 2014
Silicon Valley Community Foundation today announced the formation of a new center that will bring together best-in-class research, leadership, advocacy and innovative program strategies to improve the systems of early learning and care in Silicon Valley.
One of the Center’s first priorities will be the release of a recently completed, first-of-its-kind study to better understand the beliefs, practices and challenges facing parents with children ages 0-8 in this region.
SVCF’s Center for Early Learning builds on the institution’s long-standing commitment to early childhood education research, leadership and advocacy in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, said Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D., CEO and president of SVCF.
“Children’s earliest experiences profoundly shape their potential to succeed in school and life,” he said. “Here in Silicon Valley too many of our kids are struggling. Close to half of the region’s children are not reading at grade level by the time they complete third grade, and this number rises to a shocking 60 percent or more among Latino, African-American and Pacific-Islander children.”
The Center will enhance SVCF’s ability to address the opportunity gaps that later become achievement gaps by confronting them when they start – during a child’s earliest years. Doing so will give children more opportunities for success throughout their lifetimes, and will mean fewer social costs in terms of public benefits, remedial education and crime in our region and beyond.
SVCF is also excited to announce that Avo Makdessian has been named Director of the Center for Early Learning. Makdessian has 15 years of experience working in the fields of child development, education, public health and human services. Prior to coming to SVCF to lead the new center, he was policy director at First 5 Santa Clara County.
“We are proud to have Avo Makdessian at the helm of the Center for Early Learning,” said Erica Wood, senior vice president of community leadership and grantmaking at SVCF. “With the heightened attention on the importance of early learning nationally and statewide, Silicon Valley needs a center than can provide up-to-date research on pressing issues facing our youngest children and their families, pilot innovative approaches to addressing these issues and be a leading voice in relevant policy discussions.”
SVCF has been a pioneer in school readiness assessment, helped to achieve a major legislative victory to preserve funding for early childhood health and education, and provides thousands of at-risk children with a highly effective summer transitional program prior to kindergarten entry.
Additionally, the Center will serve to complement existing grantmaking strategies and initiatives. SVCF will continue to focus a portion of its discretionary grantmaking on closing the middle school achievement gap in mathematics. SVCF’s early literacy and early learning programs will continue. And Wood said SVCF will continue to support districts working together to implement California’s newly adopted Common Core State Standards.
Through individual and corporate donors, SVCF is one of the largest funders of education in the country. SVCF, through our donors, gave $197 million to Bay Area charities in 2013, making us the largest grantmaker to our region’s nonprofit organizations.
About Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Silicon Valley Community Foundation makes all forms of philanthropy more powerful. We serve as a catalyst and leader for innovative solutions to our region’s most challenging problems, and our donors award more money to charities than any other community foundation in the United States. SVCF has more than $4.7 billion in assets under management. As Silicon Valley’s center of philanthropy, we provide thousands of individuals, families and corporations with simple and effective ways to give locally and around the world. Find out more at http://www.siliconvalleycf.org.