Hope Starts Here: Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership

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For more than a decade, a small local early childhood funders collaborative, led by the Kresge Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, had been meeting and working together to align efforts, pool funding and tackle significant areas of challenge.

There were pockets of bright spots in priority cities, where child outcomes were very positive, but the magnitude of challenges and problems was far outpacing the impact of investments: 60% of children in a majority of Detroit neighborhoods were living in poverty.

The funders realized that if they were going to scale impact in the city – and change outcomes for Detroit’s children–they would need a shared vision and roadmap. Additionally, they would need to engage parents around early childhood issues for the first time.

Those conversations were taking place at a time when promising work was happening around Head Start. To capitalize on those successes, Kellogg led a technical assistance effort to make sure community members and nonprofits were fit to compete for Head Start funds, and together, Kresge and Kellogg co-funded the Head Start Innovation Fund launched in 2013.  Still, they knew they would need to talk to people outside of the Head Start system to improve child outcomes in Detroit.

As strong leaders in the early childhood arena with deep history and relationships in communities where they fund, Kresge and Kellogg share common goals of creating opportunities for children, families and communities that help them thrive and realize their full potential in school, work and life.  The President and CEO’s of both foundations came together, and agreed to collaborate on further-reaching initiatives, while acknowledging the importance of providing a framework and local leadership.

A Framework to Improve Detroit’s Early Childhood Outcomes

Inspired by these conversations, Hope Starts Here (HSH) – Detroit’s Early Childhood Partnership launched in 2016 as an ongoing initiative to support early childhood education in Detroit.  In November 2017, after a year-long community engagement process, Kresge and Kellogg, along with hundreds of community partners unveiled the Hope Starts Here Framework, 10-year community framework to improve Detroit’s early childhood outcomes.

The Framework is a community-driven partnership supported by Kresge and Kellogg to make Detroit a city that puts its young children and families first, by creating a stronger connection between early childhood, health and education, and by improving the quality of and access to early childhood services. With this Framework, Detroit families and community and civic leaders have aligned on strategy and policy priorities to place young children at the center of the city’s continued recovery.

The Framework was directly informed by more than 18,000 Detroiters who contributed to a year-long planning process to ensure that children are born healthy, prepared for kindergarten, and ready for success by third grade and beyond. It is comprised of six strategic imperatives and 15 supporting strategies and 26 public policy priorities, all of which are essential for implementation and success.

More Than a Philanthropic Collaboration

Hope Starts Here is more than just two foundations with a joint priority to fund in early childhood.  It truly represents a unique and deep collaboration among two philanthropies through all levels of leadership, with their communities to change systems and create a city that puts children first.

Beginning with the end in mind, as the framework was developed, the foundations began planning for the execution of implementation of the work to maintain momentum once HSH launched.   Acknowledging that major resources would be needed to actualize the Framework, Kresge and Kellogg committed to $25 million over three to five years to support the implementation of the Framework. This included a commitment to the upgrading of facilities, the creation of a small grant program for early childhood providers, and the strengthening of networks of learning and practice among early childhood professionals. As the Hope Starts Here Framework launched, the two foundations then moved into grantmaking to implement the Framework.

Celebrating Three Years

Hope Starts Here elicits a feeling of hope and promise and reflects what the foundations believe: that if they came together with the community in deep collaboration, they can change systems and create a city that puts children first.  The HSH Framework has provided a touchstone and opportunity for calling people up to a level of collaboration that has better possibility of producing and expediting those outcomes.  In November 2019, community members joined in a Summit to celebrate the third year of the Hope Starts Here Framework.

Read more about Hope Starts Here and the real stories that are emerging from listening to more than 18,000 Detroit parents, caregivers, educators and community members engaged in the work.

HSH has also teamed up with Data Driven Detroit to examine the early childhood ecosystem through a variety of lenses. Click here to learn about why a focus on Detroit’s youngest residents holds such opportunity. These are the numbers behind countless stories of families and children across the city.

Photo credit: HSHfeature

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