We are poised to launch a national entrepreneurial leadership corps for early educators. Our team’s unique approach sits at the cutting edge of knowledge creation and real-world practice, and our graduates are powerful levers for systemic change. Seeding, cultivating, and sustaining this leadership is essential for advancing the profession and fulfilling its promise to young children and families.
Impact on individuals
Rather than leaving the field, as many early care and education professionals do, our graduates remain invested in ECE. They are driving quality improvement in greater Boston and beyond by starting their own ECE programs and schools; implementing innovative solutions to persistent challenges at existing early education programs; advocating for policy change at the state and local level; and collaborating to create new knowledge for the field.
As policymakers, researchers, and community activists grapple with how to ensure that all children have access to high quality ECE, we must follow the lead of experienced ECE practitioners who possess unique expertise and knowledge from their daily interactions and relationships with young children and families.
Impact on organizations
After completing our entrepreneurial training, the percentage of early care and education business owners reporting that they had a budget for their business increased from 28% to 72%, and the percentage reporting that they had a business plan increased from 22% to 78%. After working with us, some participants said they were better prepared to manage their fiscal responsibilities, and many reported increases in enrollment and revenue.
ECE businesses and schools employ the single largest, and most racially and linguistically diverse, teaching workforce in America, representing 30% of the entire instructional workforce birth through post-secondary. When we build talent from within this powerful and diverse workforce, we tap into the passion, insight, and leadership that can revolutionize quality and early learning outcomes, and transform organizations.
This transformation is needed now. Most children in the United States under the age of five are cared for in ECE settings such as childcare centers, preschools, family childcare homes, Head Start and Early Head Start centers, and public schools. Many children spend between 40 and 50 hours each week in ECE, and often over a period of several years. But most ECE programs lack access to the resources and supports needed to achieve and maintain high quality, and high quality ECE is essential for children’s school readiness. From birth to age five, children develop the foundation for lifelong success. When young children have access to high-quality ECE, they are far more likely to complete high school, go to college, and become productive workers and engaged citizens.
Impact on systems and policies
Together, our graduates are a powerful corps of leaders. They are role models and mentors for their colleagues. They contribute to local and state efforts to improve the field of early care an education. As entrepreneurial leaders working in collaboration, they improve local economies.
The lessons we learn from our work with educators and our research inform our policy recommendations on how to get better results for children and families. We are housed at the University of Massachusetts Boston, which has a long history of collaborative partnerships with urban early care and education programs and places a high value on inquiry, experimentation, transformation, and scientific discovery and innovation. It is the perfect home from which to test theories of ECE change on a local level and then grow them in ways that can inform systemic change.
Our faculty regularly publish in peer-reviewed journals, and our executive director is the author of Leading for Change in Early Care and Education: Cultivating Leadership from Within (Teachers College Press, 2017).
Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation