Jun 27, 2022
We have an abundance of talent that is ready to reimagine early childhood and well-being in America for our youngest children and families, but we do not have an abundance of leadership experiences that nurture, propel, and position them as the dynamic leaders our country urgently needs. Leadership that reflects the full diversity and genius of our communities, sectors, identities, and lived experiences matters now more than ever. In Toward A More Equitable Tomorrow: A Landscape Analysis of Early Childhood Leadership, we uncover the essentials for future leadership investments that value and center equity—especially racial equity and inclusion—to surface new possibilities and equitable prosperity moving forward. Insights from stakeholders including state and federal cabinet directors, service providers, funders, and parents offer powerful perspectives to guide the future early childhood field, and guide those who seek to accelerate families’ well-being, educational success, and economic mobility. Ascend at the Aspen Institute is embracing this moment as a renewal, and also as a redoubling of our commitment to remake our systems and our society. This means centering children and families with a focus not simply on eliminating persistent inequities such as poverty, polarization, and racism, but on ensuring pathways to prosperity and well-being. With support from the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Bezos Family Foundation, Ascend undertook a robust landscape analysis of the early childhood field. More than 80 leaders—from research, practice, policy, philanthropy, and families with young children—shared their insights for this report. It was augmented by a review of 20 mission-aligned leadership efforts. Our inquiry was grounded in an intentional focus on racial, economic, and gender equity; respect for the advances made; commitment to innovation; and an open mind to new approaches, possibilities, and power.