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Increasing funding for early childhood education through a strategy that increases college attainment at the same time.

An innovative funding model that increases access to early childhood and post-secondary education.

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Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

None at this time.

Name or Organization

The lead applicant is Toledo Community Foundation, Inc. The Toledo Community Foundation is working on behalf of Toledo Public Schools, the City of Toledo and Toledo Early College High School for this proposal. Toledo Early College High School (TEC) is a center of excellence within Toledo’s largest urban school district that allows students to graduate with up to two years of college credit. Toledo Public Schools is the lead for our community’s largest Head Start program.

Geography

This initiative will take place in Toledo, Ohio.

What is your stage of development?

  • Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD

Type

  • Non - Profit

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Describe your submission in one clear sentence

A creative funding model that addresses low educational attainment at both ends of the age spectrum, early childhood and college.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

The City of Toledo’s current rate of college graduates is only 17.4 percent, compared to 30.6 percent nationally. Cities with higher educational attainment see rising wages, better public health, improved growth, and even improved life expectancy. The root cause of this challenge must be addressed: Several years ago, nearly 80% of kindergarteners arrived at Toledo Public Schools classrooms needing learning interventions, with 60% requiring intensive interventions. Expanding access to quality early childhood education is critical to changing the overall trajectory for our community.

Select an Innovation Target

  • System design: Solutions that target changing larger systems.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

Toledo falls near the bottom of the state of Ohio in educational attainment rates. The City of Toledo’s current rate of college graduates is only 17.4 percent, compared to a 26.1 percent average for Ohio and 30.6 percent nationally. A group of city leaders came together in 2017 to discuss ways to expand access to early childhood education through innovative funding strategies. The group included representatives from higher education, the Mayor’s office, the faith community and a technology CEO. The discussions resulted in a creative model for funding that would leverage a successful Toledo Public School, Toledo Technology Academy, which graduates high school students with up to two years of college credit. The funding model is based on the fact that the State of Ohio contributes to public institutions of higher education based on students that attend. For every Toledo Early College student who enrolls at a local university, as much as two years of funding never transfers to Toledo. Historically, the State has retained these educational savings rather than reinvesting them locally. Toledo leaders from business, philanthropy and higher education are prepared to mount an effort to redirect these dollars towards early childhood education and to increase enrollment at Toledo Early College. If successful, this model would promote degree attainment while driving towards universal pre-K access.

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

Through this opportunity, TCF and its partners will address its most pressing and important challenge – low educational attainment. It proposes an innovative funding model which would increase funding for early childhood education, while at the same time promoting college degree attainment.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

Strong early starts provide the foundation for all later learning. High quality early childhood education leads to measurable improvement in numerous outcome areas, including earnings, educational attainment and family stability in later life (High/Scope Perry Preschool Study). However, the need is much greater than can be met with existing funding sources. The two Head Start grantees, Toledo Public Schools and Brightside Academy, are only serving 15% of the county’s poorest children. Civic leaders have been increasingly asking the question: how can access to high quality early childhood education be expanded in Toledo? Through this project, collaborators seek to change the state funding mechanism for early childhood education. The idea is to increase resources for early childhood education, while increasing access to higher education for high school students, without increasing taxes. The proposed innovation would expand access to Toledo Early College High School and the number of Head Start slots in Toledo. Located on the campus of the University of Toledo, Toledo Early College High School (TECHS) is a center of excellence within the Toledo Public School district that provides up to 60 credit hours of college credit to high school students. Early college high schools were created to blend high school and college in a rigorous yet supportive program, compressing the time it takes to complete a high school diploma and the first two years of college. Graduates enjoy accelerated placement, a reduced length of time necessary to complete degree programs and a jump-start to achieving their career goals. More than 90% of TECHS graduates go on to college, TECHS has achieved an "Excellent" rating from the State of Ohio. Many of Toledo Early College’s courses are taught by University of Toledo faculty. Enrollment currently hovers at 250, but there is capacity for 400. Toledo Early College is funded locally through the budget of Toledo Public Schools and also private philanthropy. The Toledo Early College High School Fund of the Toledo Community Foundation helps to defray costs. As in many states, the state of Ohio contributes to the general operations of public institutions of higher education through the State Share of Instruction mechanism within the state budget. Graduates of Toledo Early College High School, the majority of which attend the University of Toledo and other local 2- and 4-year colleges, typically enroll with 1 to 2 years of earned college course credits, which saves the state thousands of dollars per year. Local leaders, from business, philanthropy and higher education, are prepared to mount a sweeping statehouse effort to assign these saved dollars to support expanded access to early childhood education. If successful, this model would promote degree attainment and early childhood education at the same time. The Foundation and other collaborators led by Dr. Dan Johnson, President Emeritus of the University of Toledo, will convene all regional university presidents and conduct outreach efforts to policymakers, to test and promote the proposed model. If the model is not determined to be viable, project organizers will pivot to another approach, detailed below. The local community receives another major funding stream that could be put to better use through a strategic partnership with area colleges and universities. In 2013, the State childcare subsidy totaled $25 million in Lucas County. Eligible families may use the subsidy to access high quality pre-K or simple childcare services. For eligibility, parents must be enrolled in school or work part time. Unfortunately, high quality early childhood education centers often struggle to fill their classrooms with children eligible for the subsidy. Pre-K providers have limited capacity to work with the higher education community to engage these parents in appropriate educational pathways that would also generate eligibility for their children. Local civic leaders are prepared to create a model to connect parents like these to opportunities for higher education. Similar outcomes could be achieved through this alternative.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

With a focus on minority, English language learner, low socioeconomic status, and first generation college students, Toledo Early College High School provides the opportunity for traditionally underrepresented populations to complete up to two years of college while still enrolled in high school at no cost to themselves or their families. The expansion of Toledo Early College will benefit this target population. The early childhood education aspect of this program would target children ages 3-5, who live below the federal poverty line. At present, 13,885 Lucas County children birth to five live in poverty. Approximately 10,000 of these children reside within the Toledo Public Schools district. Toledo Community Foundation serves as the backbone organization for Aspire. Aspire harnesses the collective impact of the community to guide the success of children from cradle to career. Aspire is a collaborative effort of the United Way of Greater Toledo, Toledo Community Foundation and the Lucas County Family Council. It is built on the foundation of the Strive Together Network. Aspire utilizes data, measurement, and a continuous improvement process to drive better outcomes for education. Aspire has conducted many outreach sessions with parents, utilizing the World Café model. It has collected tremendous insights about parent perceptions of early childhood education, which can help to inform this initiative.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

At present, 13,885 Lucas County children birth to five live in poverty. Approximately 10,000 reside within Toledo Public Schools. Only 2,185 students attend Head Start and public preschool. Through this process collaborators anticipate that an additional 1,250 preschoolers living in poverty would have access to high quality early childhood education. As a result of expanding access to high quality early childhood education, more children would enter kindergarten ready to learn. The benefits of high quality early childhood education have been documented well into adulthood. In addition, the model would also promote higher education. Long and short term outcomes are as follows: Short-term outcomes Confirm pre-K expansion funding model. Increase enrollment by 500 to 4 year olds in poverty by February 28, 2019. Increase enrollment by 800 to 4 year olds in poverty by February 28, 2020. Increase enrollment by 1,250 to all 4 year olds in poverty by March 15, 2021. Increase enrollment in TECHS by 200 by February 28, 2019. Expand TECHS into 6 TPS high schools to reach 2,500 by March 15, 2021. Long-term Impacts Increase Toledo’s college attainment rate by 2%. Increase Kindergarten Readiness Assessment “readiness” determination by 20%. By prioritizing education in this incremental way, Toledo paves the way for a larger, and more significant conversation about universal preschool.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

There are two federal Head Start and Early Head Start programs operating in Toledo/Lucas County which together serve 2,185 of the lowest-income children with high quality early childhood education. Toledo Public Schools serves 1,730 (with other sources of funding, in addition to Head Start), while Brightside Academy serves 455. Children who have attended Head Start are now outperforming their peers on the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment in the poorest district neighborhoods. However, the need is much greater than can be met with existing funding sources.

Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (1500 characters)

If successful, this model would change the state funding mechanism for early childhood while promoting degree attainment and access to early childhood education.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

There are 35,423 children ages birth to five in the county. Of those children, 13,885 are living below the poverty line. Currently, Head Start and public preschool is reaching approximately 2,185 children. At full implementation, local funds will be generated to support an additional 1,250 pre-K learners, while paving the way for a larger conversation about universal access. At the college attainment level, degree attainment will increase by 200-250 in the early years, with expansion to, potentially, 2,500 (annually) over time.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

While the Toledo Community Foundation is an advanced innovator in many ways, this project is still in its infancy. The Foundation and other collaborators led by Dr. Dan Johnson, President Emeritus of the University of Toledo, will convene all regional university presidents and conduct outreach efforts to policymakers, to test and promote the proposed model. If the model is not determined to be viable, project organizers will pivot to another approach, which relies upon transforming the usage of the federal childcare subsidy in our community, as detailed above.

Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (1500 characters)

This innovative funding model addresses low educational attainment at both ends of the age spectrum, early childhood and college, in a way that does not require new taxes. Under this model, cost savings to the State of Ohio at the college level would be applied to support expanded pre-K. At its heart, this proposal is about creating a sustainable business model for expanded access to educational opportunities. The proposed funding model would offer a sustainable source of revenue for expanded early childhood programming.

HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (1500 characters)

Human centered design plays a key role in the development of the concept. Observation has led us to understand that more parents would send their children to high quality early childhood education programs if they knew the important benefits they confer on their children. Expanding access will therefore depend on an expanded awareness campaign. Rapid prototyping will also be an element of the approach in relation to the funding model. The work of expanding access through increased funding lends itself to rapid prototyping, as we the team will further explore the viability of the first proposed funding model, and will take in feedback from both funders/decisionmakers and ultimate end users to improve its viability. Early conversations with key stakeholders have proven positive. But if the primary approach ultimately proves not to be viable, the team plans to pivot to the next potential model for increased access and funding. Multiple funding models will be explored in order to reach the ultimate goal of expanding access to early childhood education in Toledo, Ohio. Once implementation has been achieved, the team will continue to observe the model for opportunities to improve service delivery and further expand access.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

As mentioned above, a group of city leaders came together in 2017 to discuss ways to expand access to early childhood education through innovative funding strategies. The group included representatives from higher education, the Mayor’s office, the faith community and a technology CEO. The discussions resulted in the above-described creative model for funding. Toledo Community Foundation has long supported increased quality and access in the early childhood education arena, by making grants to support nonprofit providers, and through its strategic initiative work. Toledo Community Foundation is the community foundation serving the Toledo region, including northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan with a particular emphasis on the greater Toledo area. Since 1973, Toledo Community Foundation has worked with individuals, families and businesses, assisting them in making effective choices that match their philanthropic interests and needs while creating a better community for generations to come. Cumulative grants to support charitable projects over 40+ years have totaled more than $213 million, with approximately $13.2 million granted in 2016 alone. In addition to that of responsive grant maker, the Foundation plays a variety of other civic roles such as educator, catalyst or convenor on key community issues and makes available the expertise of its professional staff to a wide range of community efforts. For example, Toledo Community Foundation served as the organizing force behind the establishment of Aspire a collective impact initiative in 2013. Aspire is a cradle to career success initiative, which aligns business, nonprofits, local government and education behind common goals and provides partners with the continuous improvement tools needed to reach them. Toledo’s Aspire initiative has been documented in several Harvard reports and case studies, such as Business Aligning for Students: The Promise of Collective Impact by Allen S. Grossman. Aspire and the Toledo Public Schools Superintendent’s Business Advisory Group, have contributed to the framing and prioritization of our key challenges and have been the source of innovative solutions, such as the funding model proposed herein. When the federal government put the local Head Start grant up for competition in 2012, Toledo Community Foundation formed a task force to investigate high-quality models. It then negotiated with local partners to bring them together around such an approach. After the grant was awarded with Toledo Public Schools at the helm, the Foundation has continued to support the effort.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (500 characters)

Yes, the Toledo Community Foundation is partnering with local and statewide partners in education and early childhood development, as well as philanthropic leaders, governmental officials and business leaders to enact this proposal.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

We would benefit from interacting with communities that have successfully implemented universal pre-K access, a long term goal for the City of Toledo. We would also benefit from networking with other communities, individuals, organizations and coalitions that have sought to fundamentally change a state funding process.

Would you like mentoring support? [Relevant only for Early Submission Deadline]

  • No

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

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