Educare Learning Network/ Ounce of Prevention Fund

At a Glance

National Office: 
33 W Monroe Street Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-922-3863 (Ext. 3054)

Diana Rauner
People Served: 
3,000
Year Founded: 
2000
Tax ID: 
36-3186328

Focus area(s):

Early Education

Description

Educare is a research-based model program of early childhood education that prevents the achievement gap by kindergarten, ensuring that at-risk young children begin school on-track for long-term success.  The Educare Learning Network includes 17 exemplary Educare Schools that demonstrate best practices and serve as a laboratory for ongoing innovation and research to increase the quality and effectiveness of early learning programs across the country. 

Impact and Outcomes

Expansion of Educare to date -- Over the last decade, the Educare model has been scaled to 17 Schools serving over 3,000 children and families nationally.
Educare children are ready for school -- Independent evaluation confirms that children who enroll in Educare as infants or toddlers enter kindergarten ready for school, scoring at national averages on assessments of both vocabulary and social emotional skills.
Educare students sustain their early gains -- Educare of Chicago children at the end of third grade reveal no “fade-out” or diminishing of their social-emotional or concept development skills.
Scaling Educare’s impact -- Educare’s innovative practices are ready to be scaled to improve the quality and effectiveness of early education programs more broadly. The Educare approach to coaching teachers is being scaled through an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant.

Mission & Goals

Educare is a model of high quality early childhood education that ensures that at-risk young children begin kindergarten on track and are prepared for long-term school and life success. In 2000, the Ounce of Prevention Fund opened the first Educare School on Chicago’s south side. Since then, the Ounce has partnered with Susie Buffett’s philanthropy, the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, to support the replication of Educare Schools in high-poverty communities across the country. Together we form the Educare Learning Network – a coast-to-coast network of 17 Educare Schools.

The Educare Learning Network’s vision is to demonstrate that high-quality early education prevents the achievement gap for our nation’s most at-risk young children. The Network’s evidence, practice expertise, and strategic partnerships will help ensure that all children and families, especially those at greatest risk, have access to effective early learning. and that the first five years will become an integral part of the nation’s education system.

Program

Educare is a comprehensive, full-day and year-round early education program for at-risk children from birth to five and their families. Each Educare School promotes the healthy development and school readiness of 140-200 children from families at or below the federal poverty level. Educare is composed of four key elements:

  • Data Utilization
  • Embedded Professional Development
  • High-Quality Teaching Practices
  • Intensive Family Engagement

The power of Educare is derived from these four core elements working together in a comprehensive, intentional, and sustained way to create a high-quality early education program that helps children from birth to five grow up safe, healthy, and eager to learn.

The Educare Learning Network is a voluntary network of Educare schools from across the country, currently serving more than 3,000 children. Together, these schools focus on implementing exemplary education and family engagement practices at the local level to close the achievement gap for at-risk young children.  In each Educare community, a public-private partnership– including early education leaders, philanthropists, researchers, and K-12 education partners – is created to share governance of the school. The national office of the Educare Learning Network, housed at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, provides technical assistance to ensure quality at local schools; oversees the national evaluation of Educare’s impact; supports the expansion of the Network; forges strategic partnerships; and engages policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders to demonstrate the educational achievement that is possible for all children through increased investments in early learning.

Impact

The Educare Learning Network currently serves more than 3,000 children annually at 17 schools in 11 states and the District of Columbia.Rigorous evaluation and continuous improvement is a core commitment of all Educare Schools, which is accomplished through ongoing partnerships with independent researchers at the national and local levels.  Studies currently underway include:

  • Annual evaluation of classroom quality and child and family outcomes under the leadership of  the FPG Child Development Institute at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
  • Elementary School Follow Up Studies in two sites
  • Randomized Control Study of 5 Educare Schools (results available in 2014)

Statistically significant results from an independent evaluation demonstrate that Educare is effective in preparing at-risk children from birth to five for later academic achievement.  Highlights from the most recent evaluations include:

  • School readiness: Children from both English- and Spanish-speaking homes who enter Educare before age 2 achieve an average school readiness score of 98—near the national average (100) and far exceeding typical scores for at-risk children.
  • Vocabulary: Kindergarten-bound children who entered Educare before age 2 average 98.2 on this measure—near the national mean (100) for all children and much higher than averages for low-income children in national studies of early achievement.
  • Social-emotional skills:  Educare children enter kindergarten exhibiting average or above average social-emotional skills. These skills help Educare children negotiate the transition to kindergarten and its new demands, new teachers and new peers—setting them up for school success.
  • Long-term impact: Longitudinal data from Educare Chicago demonstrate no “fade-out” or diminishing of social-emotional or concept development skills at third grade. Similarly, 75% of Educare parents are rated by elementary school teachers as being actively involved in their child’s schooling. 

Growth Plan

Economic Model

Scaling of new Educare Schools is accomplished through a financial model that is primarily locally driven.  A consortium of national philanthropies provides start-up challenge grants to incent local investment in Schools. Local Schools then operate through a public/private partnership governance model in which ongoing School operations are funded primarily through public sector grants for early learning services, along with additional private sector investment. 

The Educare Learning Network’s national office, housed at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, is funded through partnerships with leading philanthropies in early learning.  The national office provides technical assistance and support in partnership development, program development, evaluation, and planning for long-term sustainability of individual Schools.  With additional investment and in collaboration with leaders of individual Schools, it will facilitate joint planning and execution of the Network’s strategic plan.  This plan includes strategies to scale impact through development of new Schools, ongoing research and innovation, and work to extend the reach of Educare’s best practices to other early education programs.

Several scaling efforts to extend Educare best practices are underway in California, Nebraska and Illinois.   In the years ahead, the Network will build on successful approaches to scaling its impact while seeding new, coordinated efforts in multiple states or regions.  One example of this scaling is the “i3 Coach Corps” described in the attached Growth Plan, which is funded by an i3 Investing in Innovation grant.   The Network will seek additional private and public sector investment to dramatically increase the i3 Coach Corps’ reach, as well as other promising scaling efforts.

Growth Plan

The Educare Learning Network is completing the initial phase of its national scaling plan, having expanded from the first Educare School in Chicago to 17 operating Schools over the last decade.  By 2018,  the size of the Network will increase by over 50%, ensuring Educare Schools are operating in urban, suburban and rural areas, along with many of the nation’s largest public school districts.

The Educare Learning Network’s new strategic plan sets a bold vision and path for dramatically the Network’s impact and reach as a force for change in education in the years ahead.  Goals for this next phase of scaling impact include:

  • Strengthen the existing Educare Learning Network
  • Add New Schools in Strategic Locations
  • Research & Innovate
  • Scale What Works

To implement its growth plan, the Educare Learning Network/Ounce of Prevention Fund requires $55 million in new investment over the next 5 years. New investment capital will allow the Educare Learning Network to employ the following strategies to achieve its scaling goals:

  1. Ensure existing Schools continue to demonstrate strong child and family outcomes and act exemplars for the early learning field through technical assistance, training, and expanding innovative peer learning
  2. Extend the reach of Educare’s effective practices “beyond the walls” of Educare Schools to improve child outcomes in a broad array of early education programs nationwide
  3. Research, innovate, and scale new solutions to close the achievement gap based on Educare’s best practices and results to date
  4. Extend the current Randomized Control Trial through 3rd Grade and track long-term progress of Educare graduates
  5. Increase the Network’s cadre of leaders, teachers, parents, and private sector champions who can contribute to broader education reform efforts
  6. Deepen the focus on sustainability at the individual School and Network level

Location of Sites

National Office: 
33 W Monroe Street Suite 2400
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-922-3863 (Ext. 3054)
List of locations

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Locations in the following states:

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Financials

Most Recent Budget

Year Ended:

2013

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$0
Foundation Grants: 
$6,280,583
Government Funding: 
$995,524
Contributions from Individuals: 
$0
Special Events: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$0
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$3,750,699
Other Revenue (Description): 
To be raised
Total Revenue: 
$11,026,806

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$4,351,575
Occupancy: 
$163,969
Travel & Entertainment: 
$317,354
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$48,091
Telephone & Communications: 
$326,920
Payments to Affiliates: 
$4,563,636
Other Expenses: 
$1,255,261
Other Expenses (Description): 

Conferences and meetings; administration

Total Expenses: 
$11,026,806

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain/Loss: 
$0

Prior Year Actuals

Year Ended:

2012

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$0
Foundation Grants: 
$5,479,450
Government Funding: 
$468,992
Contributions from Individuals: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$0
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$0
Special Events: 
$0
Total Revenue: 
$5,948,442

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$2,255,634
Occupancy: 
$104,360
Travel & Entertainment: 
$267,473
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$38,372
Telephone & Communication: 
$161,319
Payments to Affiliates: 
$2,333,334
Other Expenses: 
$787,950
Other Expenses (Description): 

Conferences and meetings; administration

Total Expenses: 
$5,948,442

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain / Loss: 
$0

Major Funders

  • Buffett Early Childhood Fund

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Irving Harris Foundation

  • George Kaiser Family Foundation

  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation

  • Pritzker Children's Initiative

  • W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation