In order to keep our competitive edge in today’s knowledge-based economy, the next generation must have the skills, knowledge and dispositions to create and sustain new forms of enterprise.
Communities where all children enter kindergarten ready to learn are best positioned to thrive in the 21st century. Research shows that 85% of brain development occurs before age three, and growth is particularly affected by the quality of children’s home and educational learning environments. This research has special implications for those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds who are exposed to an estimated 30 million fewer words than their economically advantaged peers (Hart & Risley, 2003). Nobel-laureate economist James J. Heckman (2012) estimated that for “every dollar spent on high quality, birth-to-five programs for disadvantaged children delivers a 13% per annum return on investment over the course of a lifetime.”