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Infants, Toddlers Focus of New Investment from Pritzker Children's Initiative

baby-toys-article-copyright-Getty.jpgTwenty-nine communities across the country will focus on building up high-quality care for infants and toddlers thanks to a new philanthropic effort from Pritzker's Children's Initiative, a project of the Chicago-based J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation. 

Most of the communities will be partnering with one of five national organizations to guide their work. (Denver is working with two national organizations.) The goal is to build on the efforts already underway in many communities to support children from birth to age 3. The foundation will invest more than $6.5 million initially during the first year, with additional funding to follow. 

Janet Froetscher, the president of the Pritzker Family Foundation, said she sees the project as a catalyst for further investments in this area. While preschool advocates are often able to build on the existing infrastructure provided by a school district, programs for younger children don't have that built-in support, she said. 

So the foundation asked communities what they need. On the wish list: help in communicating the importance of early childhood to community leaders, information about model programs, support in creative ways to finance programs, and methods to measure their communities' current needs and future progress. 

Those are among the needs that this initiative will address, Froetscher said. "We can support their planning efforts," she said, "and we can also help them with being able to document the impact of what difference this makes." 

The grant support "feels like a real validation of our work starting early with children," said Annemarie Valdez, the president of First Steps Kent. Her community, Kent County, Mich., is among those involved in the initiative. Kent County includes Grand Rapids and neighboring cities.

Here are the communities that are involved in the initiative, as well as their national partner: 

National Association of Counties

Boone County, Mo.

Champaign County, Ill.

Dauphin County, Pa.

Pierce County, Wash.

Ramsey County, Minn.

Washington County, Va.

Watauga County, N.C.

Tarrant County, Texas

Center for the Study of Social Policy

Boston

Denver

Guilford County, N.C.

Los Angeles County, Calif.

Kent County, Mich.

Multnomah County, Ore.

Orange County, Calif.

Onondaga County, N.Y.

Ventura County, Calif.

Volusia and Flagler counties, Fla.

National League of Cities

Austin

Baltimore

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Cleveland

Denver

Minneapolis

National Institute for Children's Health Quality and StriveTogether

Albuquerque

Memphis

Norwalk, Conn.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Spartanburg County, S.C. 

Tucson

Image by Getty

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