Today, kids from prosperous families get quality preschool and enrichment of many kinds in the first five years of life, when 90% of brain development occurs.
The other kids usually don’t. Their families can’t afford preschool or enrichment activities. These kids arrive at kindergarten already behind, and by third grade, can’t read at grade level.
Up to third grade, kids learn to read. After, they must read to learn. This is a critical inflection point where we lose children we need for our knowledge economy.
This is not a minor issue. 50% of our county’s children are not reading proficiently by third grade.
The Big Lift is a bold social venture that aims to transform early learning. It combines high-quality and connected learning experiences from preschool to third grade, with a focus on reducing chronic absence and summer learning loss, and engaging families and the broader community to support learning in school and at home.
We have built up to over 300 organizations working together and have raised $28 million in two years.
We have already started to invest in four San Mateo communities with below average reading scores and high capacity to address the challenge.
But that is only the beginning. It will take an estimated $50 million a year to make this work long-term for all the kids who need support. We know this county has what it takes to get the job done.
Are you in?
If we were designing our public school system today, it would start at age 3. In preschool, children learn the early academic content and develop the social and emotional skills that education experts view as essential to kindergarten readiness and success in school.
If you can afford to send your child to a quality preschool and provide other enriching experiences, you do . If you can’t afford to, like half of our county’s families, your child’s chances of success are greatly diminished before school begins — a major opportunity gap.
San Mateo is one of the most forward-looking and prosperous counties in the nation, among the top 1%. With such a positive profile, it can be easy to overlook how many kids in our county are struggling very early on in school.
Rigorous economic research by Nobel laureate Professor James Heckman of University of Chicago shows that investment in early education returns more than eight dollars for every dollar spent, with the highest rates of return for 0-3 and preschool programs.