Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Strategic Focus

The Rotary Club of Wilmington has committed to a three-year strategic focus to help improve early education in Delaware.

Vision: Every Delaware child should have a high-quality early education experience.

Strategic Focus: Services for young children 0-5 and their families in the City of Wilmington and State of Delaware.

  • 90% of the brain is formed by age 5
  • There are 50,000 children in Delaware under age 5
  • The state invests a fraction (less than 1/4) per child in this age group as compared to K-12 students
  • About half of children entering Kindergarten in Delaware do not have the skills needed to succeed
  • And, only about half of children in Delaware have a preschool experience before Kindergarten

We partner with Wilmington-based nonprofit early learning centers to learn about their needs and the needs of the families they serve—and to contribute in our community. Additionally, we are a member of the First State Pre-K Coalition which advocates for universal Pre-K for all 3 and 4 year olds.

Strategic Initiatives

  • Awareness and Education
  • Influencer Organizations
  • Community Projects
  • Civic Engagement and Advocacy Opportunities

Featured Speakers and Programs

  • Julius Mullen of Children and Families First (May 17, 2018 speaker). Julius discusses two generation strategies and the influence of adverse childhood experiences on the brain. Learn more by watching this video.
  • Steve Barnett, PhD, National Institute for Early Education Research (January 31, 2019 speaker). Where does the Nation and Delaware rank for Pre-K? How does Pre-K benefit state economies? Steve’s expertise includes the economics of early care and education including costs and benefits, the long-term effects of preschool programs on children’s learning and development, and the distribution of educational opportunities. View his presentation to learn about the state of Pre-K in Delaware, the importance of third grade reading levels, long term health and what we can do to help improve the situation. View Steve Barnett’s presentation here.
  • Leslie Newman, CEO of Children Families First (August 15, 2019). Leslie shared key information on the science of early childhood brain development, proven solutions to improve early childhood and ways the club can advocate.
  • Delaware Readiness Service Project (October 17, 2019). Rotary members helped prepare Kindergarten Readiness kits complete with at-home activities, books, and guidance for parents.
  • Roberta Golinkoff, University of Delaware, PhD (February 13, 2020). Roberta is the Unidel H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Education, Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Linguistics and Cognitive Science at the University of Delaware and director of the Child’s Play, Learning, and Development laboratory. Roberta discussed the importance of early childhood language development, proven methods to improve statistics and ways to engage in conversational duets with babies. Learn more about Roberta’s work here.
  • Lucinda Ross, Executive Director of St. Michael’s and President of daeyc (April 30, 2020). Lucinda Ross is the Executive Director of St. Michael’s School and Nursery (Wilmington) and the President of the Delaware Association for the Education of Young Children (daeyc). Lucinda Ross brings 30+ years of experience in the early childhood education industry to the conversation. Her expertise is engineered from a variety of essential early childhood education roles within organizations including Executive Director, President, Board of Directors, teacher, trainer/mentor, consultant, advocate, Department of Public Health trainer, and Department of Education assessment administrator. View Lucinda Ross’ presentation here.
  • Karen Hartz, Director of Development for the Latin American Community Center (June 18, 2020). View Karen Hartz’ presentation here.
  • A look at Wilmington Rotary’s commitment to Early Childhood Education (June 25, 2020). Click Here to view this presentation.
  • Gary T. Henry, Dean of the University of Delaware’s College of Education and Human Development and professor in the School of Education and the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy & Administration (July 16, 2020). View Gary Henry’s presentation here.
  • Julia Barfield, Senior Manager of policy and programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce (August 6, 2020). View Julia Barfield’s presentation on the business case for Early Childhood Education here.
  • Suzanne Bouffard, author of the book, The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our Children (September 24, 2020). View Suzanne Bouffard’s presentation here.
  • Dr. Sarah Lytle, Director of Outreach and Education at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington (November 5, 2020). View Dr. Lytle’s presentation about brain science and early childhood here.
  • Quinn Johnson, former State Representative and child care owner (February 4, 2021). View Quinn Johnson’s presentation on the state budget and early childhood education funding here.

Strategic Partners

How can you help?

  1. Volunteer
    1. Sign up for Rotary community service projects
    2. Read to a young child. Visit the Read Aloud Delaware website for opportunities.
    3. Join a community-based Readiness team. Visit the Delaware Readiness Teams website to learn more.
  2. Donate
    1. Contribute to the Rotary Foundation to support our community service projects.
    2. Contribute to the Delaware COVID-19 Strategic Response Fund.
  3. Advocate: Contact your legislator and ask them to invest in early childhood
    1. Child Care https://actionnetwork.org/letters/child-care-is-essential-fundourfuture
    2. Pre-K http://bit.ly/2021preK

  4. Communicate
    1. Submit a Letter to the Editor to a Delaware newspaper
    2. Share links to this page and those mentioned above to social media platforms