In 2006, business leaders from around the state formed the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF) to fund a pilot study of a science driven early childhood initiative. The initiative, known as the Minnesota Model for Early Learning, was based on research and a proposal by Art Rolnick and Rob Grunewald from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
MELF raised $20 million that was to create a four-star quality rating system and to implement and evaluate a demonstration project that was based on parent mentors and early learning scholarships. Employing this approach, MELF demonstrated that the Minnesota Model was replicable, scalable, and cost effective. And the bottom line--the scholarship children were starting school ready. Making the application user friendly, empowering parents living in a low-income community, and working with community leaders to promote the importance of early learning were key
The sooner we can replicate the Minnesota Model in other US states and other world countries, the sooner we can tackle the growing school readiness gap.
To spread the model, we need an increasing number of institutions adopting it. However, the possibility to join is not dependant on size or finance as we believe that if enthusiastic, anyone can start making a difference in their community.
Further research into already running programs, including case studies, is necessary for building a robust knowledge base that could be used not only by the institutions adopting the Model but also by supporters trying to recruit new participants.
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