The Start Early Funders Coalition for Children and Minnesota’s Future met today to discuss “Messaging to Maintain the Momentum.”
Minnesota’s children are on a winning streak. Three major federal grant awards will provide a combined $88 million over the next five years to improve our state’s early learning systems. Governor Dayton is showing a new level of commitment to our youngest citizens by creating a Children’s Cabinet and an Office of Early Learning.
At the meeting today, participants:
- discussed how to best take advantage of the momentum created by these milestones,
- reflected on how audiences’ perceptions of early learning have evolved and
- began development of new strategic messages to move their work forward.
If we are to create a second Minnesota Miracle, there is certainly much work to do, but there was some agreement on next steps at today’s session.
WHO: Most agreed that there are important audiences that must hear the message, from the governor, to legislators, to legislative candidates to the general public (voters, parents, caregivers and seniors).
In addition, there must be champions in the business, education and funding communities. Representatives from these audiences and beyond were present today.
WHAT: Again — there was consensus on the high points.
- All agreed that messaging must start with the science of brain development: child development — particularly from birth to age five — is a foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society.
- The next step involves making a strong business case for why we must do the work now: today’s children are tomorrow’s workforce, and Minnesota must compete in the global marketplace to remain relevant.
- The cost of doing nothing is far greater than the cost of investing in effective early learning for all of our children.
HOW: This was the toughest question put to today’s group — there were many ideas, but perhaps less agreement on which should rise to the top. Here was some of what I heard:
- Identify the assets and connections in the room and determine how they can best be put to work.
- Create a unified message with a unified and specific call to action.
- Put energy into convincing civic leaders — who will then bring the general public along.
- Get parents to take this cause on as their own and demand effective early learning experiences for their children.
- Motivate our leaders to make this a priority and come to view it as a part of their legacy.
What do you think it will take for our state to create a second Minnesota Miracle? Do you think it’s a goal worth aiming for?
– Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate