Small Talks, No. 1

March 12, 2021

Dear Small Talker,

Welcome to the inaugural Small Talks. Every Friday, I highlight 6 areas of weekly joys and reflections in early childhood and the whole family. Small Talks leverages my experience at the intersection of education, philanthropy and impact investing. Enjoy!

What I’m celebrating — 

  • A truly historical moment: The American Rescue Plan includes unprecedented funding for child care and families via stimulus checks and an expanded child tax credit to reduce child poverty by half. NPR journalist Anya Kamenetz beautifully storied three families on how they may use the cash. Cheers to all the advocates, policy makers and baby champions.

  • On a different scale, I applaud the recent fundraising by Brightwheel that signals appetite from child care providers in digital tools, and the IPO filing by Coursera.

What I’m listening to —

  • The brilliant voices of student parents highlighted by Ascend at The Aspen Institute on 1in5 podcast. Bravo Waukecha Wilkerson, Jesús Benitez, Michaela Martin, Savannah Steiger for elevating your stories in service of millions of students who are also parenting.

  • When Joan Lombardi, the first deputy assistant secretary for Early Childhood and international expert on child development and social policy, speaks, I listen...Joan released her new podcast “The New Neighborhood” highlighting early childhood innovations in communities, starting with parent advocacy in Multnomah, Oregon, and holistic pediatric. 

  • I joined the opening SXSWEdu with Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry, renown child psychiatrist, for a riveting ‘fire chat’ on child trauma, reiterating the importance of human connections, and regulation before any learning can happen. 

What I’m reading —

What I’m watching —

  • The documentary Growing Poor in America is heart-wrenching. Director Jezza Neumann follows three children - Shawn, Kyah and Laikyen - and their families in Ohio as the COVID-19 pandemic amplifies their struggle to stay afloat. It is a sobering capture of the impact of poverty on their learning.

What I’m learning and exploring more deeply —

  • Alison Gopnik’s essay “Why childhood and old age are key to our human capacities” expanded my mind about the early years and the intergenerational benefits of connecting youngs and olds.

  • Groundbreaking World Bank’s child care report shows first-time global numbers: more than 40% of children need childcare, but do not have access. That is 350 million little ones (more than the entire US population)! 

  • Fascinating interview of Nobel Prize Dr. James Heckman by Katharine Stevens at AEI. Denmark is often highlighted for its family-friendly policies. In his research, Dr. Heckman shows that Denmark fares indeed better than the U.S. on economic mobility. However, education mobility outcomes are similar across Denmark and the U.S.  

Quote I’m pondering —

“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach for the hearts is wise.” Maya Angelou

Feedback is a gift. Which part above is your favorite? What did I miss? What do you want more or less of? Other suggestions? Please kindly let me know.

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Have a wonderful week. Please stay safe and care for each other.