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Too Small to Fail (TSTF), a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and The Opportunity Institute, is leading a public awareness and action campaign to promote the importance of early brain and language development and to empower parents with tools to talk, read, and sing with their young children from birth. Today, almost 60 percent of children in the United States start kindergarten unprepared, lagging behind their peers in critical language, math, and social-emotional skills. Through partnerships with pediatricians, hospitals, faith-based leaders, community-based organizations, businesses, entertainment industry leaders and others, Too Small to Fail is meeting parents where they are to help them prepare their children for success in school and beyond. Whether at the pediatrician's office or the playground, Too Small to Fail aims to make small moments big by creating opportunities for meaningful interactions anytime, anywhere. Below is a summary of program activities. 

National Programs | Cities Strategy

Univision: Pequeños y Valiosos

Since 2014, Too Small to Fail and Univision — the country’s largest Spanish-language media company — have partnered to create Pequeños y Valiosos (Young and Valuable), a multi-platform public information campaign that brings the messages of Too Small to Fail into Hispanic homes and communities.  Leveraging Univision’s wide array of assets – network and cable television, radio, online/social media, and community outreach — the campaign has amassed more than 500 million audience impressions, has provided more than 125,000 families with information online and via text, and has reached tens of thousands of families through community events. Pequeños y Valiosos campaign messages encourage parents and caregivers to dedicate time every day to language-rich activities — like talking, reading and singing — and also highlight the benefits of bilingualism and early numeracy.  In 2016, the campaign expanded to include messages on the connection between social-emotional development and early learning.  


Engaging Hollywood

TSTF has briefed television writers and producers about the importance of early brain and language development. As a result of these meetings and briefings, nine television shows have incorporated messaging into their programs, including Law & Order: SVU, Jane the Virgin, Doc McStuffins, Grandfathered, Orange is the New Black, Parenthood, The Fosters, Royal Pains, and Criminal Minds, reaching 35 million viewers. TSTF also produced four public service announcements with celebrity moms. These PSAs were shown on the Newborn Channel which airs in 1,000 hospitals and reaches 2.5 million moms each year. Watch the videos on our Youtube channel

 

Partnering with Laundromats

Too Small to Fail is partnering with the Coin Laundry Association (CLA) to engage families through 5,000 laundromats across the country to support children’s early brain and language development. The initiative, called “Wash Time is Talk Time,” includes the distribution of information and resources including posters for laundromats, early literacy-themed coloring pages for children, and tip sheets for parents. The CLA is distributing these resources to its members and volunteers with the Laundry Project are distributing early learning resources through 50 “free laundry day” events in diverse communities across the country.

 

Early Head Start & Family Child Care

Too Small to Fail, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the National Head Start Association (NHSA), and the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) have developed a new multimedia resource kit for early educators and child care providers focused on promoting early brain and language development. This bilingual professional development tool includes research, expert videos, an educator guide, a deck of colorful activity cards, posters with conversation prompts, as well as materials to help parents extend the learning at home. These kits are being distributed to Early Head Start educators, family child care providers, and license-exempt providers. All materials are also available to download online at www.striveforfive.com at no charge to educators.

 

Language-Rich Playgrounds

TSTF is partnering with playground developers, Shane’s Inspiration and Landscape Structures (LSI), to integrate Talking is Teaching creative content on panels and signage in playgrounds, featuring parent-child conversation prompts. These panels are being incorporated into playgrounds across the country– including playgrounds in our flagship cities of Oakland, Tulsa, and Miami. Our early literacy panels and signage are also part of LSI’s standard playground equipment line for children ages six months to five years. 

 

 

Talk, Read, Sing Resources for ED & HHS

Too Small to Fail and the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) created a "Talk, Read, and Sing Together Every Day" tip sheet series designed specifically for families and early educators. These online resources provide research-based tips for talking, reading, and singing with young children, and were shared widely with over 200,000 early educators and other providers. TSTF and the Departments of HHS and ED also released a second set of resources focused on early STEM topics. Check out our tip sheets here.

Increasing Children’s Access to Books  

By the end of 2016, Too Small to Fail—in partnership with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Young Readers, Scholastic, and Highlights—will have distributed over 830,000 new children’s books to families through community organizations, hospitals and clinics, faith-based organizations, laundromats, and diaper banks across the country to promote children’s early brain and language development. Research shows that many children across the country don’t have books in the home which is a strong predictor of reading achievement. One study found that in low-income communities there is an average of one children’s book per 300 children, compared to middle-income communities where there are about 13 books in an individual home.

As Too Small to Fail continues to work to raise awareness among parents about the importance of talking, reading, and singing with their children, we want to ensure parents have access to resources to do so, especially children’s books. Two years ago, Too Small to Fail worked with one of its partners, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), to announce the Academy’s first policy statement on early literacy. The AAP has recommended that parents begin reading with their young children starting in infancy and Too Small to Fail continues to work closely with its publishing and non-profit partners to raise awareness about this critical message and to get children’s books in the hands of families who need them most.


“Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” Cities Strategy

Too Small to Fail’s cities strategy centers on our public education and action campaign, “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing,” which TSTF launched in our pilot cities of Oakland, CA, and Tulsa, OK. The campaign partners with trusted messengers to share information with parents about the critical role they play in their child’s development, as well as concrete tools to help them engage in language-rich activities. Paid and social media efforts reinforce that simple actions – like describing objects seen during a walk, singing songs, or telling stories – can significantly improve a baby’s ability to learn new words and concepts and contributes to happy, healthy development. 

Tulsa, OK

In Tulsa, TSTF is working with the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) to implement the “Talking is Teaching” campaign in churches, hospitals, grocery stores, and other places where families spend time. Through strong partnerships with Tulsa pastors and the faith-based community, GKFF is delivering tools and messages to families during literacy events at churches and as part of baby dedication ceremonies. Working with healthcare partners, TSTF is delivering campaign messages and tools to every baby born in Tulsa, as well as through ten Reach Out and Reach pediatric clinics. Campaign signage is posted in all city buses, on billboards, and in two Tulsa grocery store chains to prompt parent-child conversations while families wait for the bus or shop for groceries.

Oakland, CA

In partnership with the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, Too Small to Fail is developing a model for how children’s hospitals can address the word gap as a public health issue. At the hospital’s primary care clinic, pediatricians deliver messages about early brain development at well baby visits, along with tote bags full of tools for parents to take home. Kaiser Permanente also engaged in a strategy at four medical centers, where pediatricians are delivering messages and materials to families. In addition, the campaign is partnering with First 5 Alameda, pediatricians at community clinics, faith leaders, child care providers, librarians, and others.

Miami, FL

In Miami, Too Small to Fail is partnering with the Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of Miami-Dade and Monroe and Univision Miami, on a citywide campaign with an emphasis on reaching families of young dual language learners (DLL). Launched in June 2016, TSTF and the ELC are working with local partners at Jackson Health System clinics, Holtz Children’s Hospital, and Early Head Start to distribute tote bags full of high-quality materials and messages to 8,000 families in Miami. The Miami-Dade County Library System and Help Me Grow are also participating by displaying posters and integrating messages into their existing programming and services. Building on its multi-year national partnership with Univision, TSTF is also working with Univision’s affiliate television and radio stations in South Florida to provide in-depth news and information to its audience on early education and parenting through television programming and community events.

Minneapolis, MN

Initiated by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and her Cradle to K Cabinet, the Mayor’s Office, in partnership with Too Small to Fail, is implementing a city-wide “Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing” campaign.  The campaign is partnering with many nonprofit and community partners including Reach Out and Read, Greater Twin Cities United Way, Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota, the Hennepin County Library System, Landscape Structures, the Fred Rogers Company and Twin Cities PBS to distribute messages and tools to families.

 

Scaling the Model

In response to growing interest from other communities, Too Small to Fail released a Community Campaign Guide for cities and localities interested in building or augmenting early brain and language development campaigns. The guide is based on lessons learned in our pilot sites in the areas of communications, parent education, community partnerships, implementation, and evaluation. In addition, TSTF released resources online, such as free access to all of the campaign’s creative assets, campaign tools, training materials, and more. TSTF staff have provided technical assistance to a number of localities that are implementing campaigns.  

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