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Transforming a Generation: 90% Literacy by Third Grade
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Bosses for Babies

The Learning Alliance (TLA) is the first organization in Indian River County to join a statewide movement of an increasing number of businesses supporting families through the Children’s Movement of Florida’s “Bosses for Babies” initiative. In doing so, they are inspiring and encouraging others to follow suit. The Learning Alliance invites other community businesses to join the “Bosses for Babies” initiative because “when businesses support families, everyone wins.” Visit bossesforbabies.com for more information.

Each year, about 200,000 children head to kindergarten in Florida, and nearly half of them are not ready to learn. The Moonshot Literacy Movement created in Indian River County in 2012 has set a goal for children to be ready for kindergarten with 90% of them reading on level by the end of third grade. 

This is our “Moonshot Moment” goal, as we are working to make IRC a leading literacy capital of the nation! The “Bosses for Babies” initiative is in direct support of this Moonshot movement, because it promotes the role business leaders can play in transforming the next generation, whether through community involvement, family-friendly practices in their businesses, or by using their voices to stand up for these children and their families.

The “Bosses for Babies” initiative brings together business champions for early childhood, highlighting the many ways companies can make an impact and inspire others to take action. Bosses like Barbara Hammond, TLA CEO and co-founder, understand that investing in young children and families is an investment both in a business’ bottom line and community prosperity.

The Florida Chamber has shared the importance of early learning as a critical factor to Florida’s talent pipeline. When businesses in our county are interviewing potential hires, they want to know about the schools, parks, health care and factors related to their families. Our Moonshot Community is working together to build a literacy capital of the nation, and the “Bosses for Babies” program supports this by encouraging a family-friendly work environment. Our hope is that over time, these family-friendly policies will proliferate and become the norm.

Hammond is the mother of two boys whose life stories inspired her to start The Learning Alliance and the birth of the community-wide Moonshot Moment literacy goal which has grown into a county-wide Moonshot Literacy Movement.

Before starting The Learning Alliance, Hammond was board chair of the Mental Health Association in Vero Beach for 10 years. In that experience, Hammond understands that supporting children is undoubtedly tied to supporting their greatest teachers, their parents. As a parent herself, she relates to many of the challenges and struggles that parents face and has pledged her support to help create a workplace conducive to supporting children and their families.

The latest data shows Florida’s kindergarten readiness rate sitting at 53%. This means nearly 90,000 children entering the K-12 system are deemed “unready,” and already falling behind at a critical time in their learning and development. Research tells us it’s difficult to catch up, so we need to do a better job supporting children and families in the early years.

“This is a natural partnership,” said Hammond as The Learning Alliance is already committed to improving education for ALL children by focusing on kindergarten readiness, school and classroom support, extended learning, and community engagement as the managing partner of the Moonshot Moment Literacy Movement.

By uniting an entire community to reimagine education, we are working together to cultivate literate, creative, and compassionate citizens who will improve our world. As part of The Learning Alliance’s work to create a better tomorrow by taking a stand for our children today, they have committed to these Bosses for Babies pillars.

- Start the conversation. Be vocal when you are prioritizing family so others know it’s part of your culture. Ask employees about their families and their child care choices; listen.

- Give or volunteer. Support an early learning center in your neighborhood. Sponsor an event in your community promoting early literacy, children’s health, or support for parents of young children.

- Share community resources. Make information and resources available for parents, caregivers, or grandparents in your organization. Host an internal lunch & learn about early childhood.

- Advocate. Use your voice to elevate these issues in your community and influence decisions in Tallahassee. You can also join the Florida Chamber’s Business Alliance for Early Learning to engage with a network that cares about the link between early learning and Florida’s future.

The Learning Alliance invites other community businesses to join the Moonshot Literacy Movement by becoming a “Bosses for Babies” business, because “when businesses support families, everyone wins.”

Visit bossesforbabies.com for more information or contact Marie O’Brien at mobrien@thelearningalliance.org.