School Readiness and Early Grade Success Initiative

Funder: Annie E. Casey Foundation
Contact: Leah Hendey [email protected]
Date: October 2007 - August 2010

Caregiver with children at daycare

Eight partners were selected through a competitive process to participate in the initiative (see partners listed on the right).  The project utilized the work of Charlie Bruner (Des Moines) who developed a School Readiness Resource Guide and Toolkit. Its materials were organized around a recognized comprehensive framework to address school readiness, the Ready Child equation.

  • Ready Families + Ready Early Childhood Education Services + Ready Health Services + Ready Schools + Ready Communities = Ready Children

Scroll down to see the full cross-site report on the initiative or click here.

Major Goals for Partners:

  1. Develop thorough understanding of the school readiness and early grade success system as a whole;
  2. Collaborate with local and state organizations to advocate on behalf of low-income children in their area in order to insure that these children are healthy and ready to succeed when they enter school.


Initiative Activities:

  1. Develop a Systems Scan, profiling institutions involved in providing school readiness services.
  2. Engage local organizations and stakeholders in the school readiness system.
  3. Prepare a School Readiness Brief using available neighborhood data.
  4. Convene a Community Forum.


Cross-site Findings:

  1. There were substantial variations in system integration across sites. It appears that the best results are likely where a local collaboration of stakeholders (in and outside of government) has been formed and adopts coherent strengthening of the school readiness system as its mission.
  2. Data analysis in the briefs demonstrated that risks to children and their readiness for school were indeed strongly concentrated in a limited number of (generally low-income) neighborhoods. The array of relevant indicators is much beyond what was available even a few years ago and could be used to help service providers do a better job of targeting resources.
  3. Given the institutional fragmentation of school readiness activities, measurement to assess system performance has been an enormous challenge. However, work by NNIP partners in this project suggests that it should be possible to make important progress in addressing this challenge in the near term.
  4. This work demonstrated that advocacy by local data intermediaries can be influential in strengthening local school readiness system initiatives. In two sites, this project was key to laying the foundation for new comprehensive school readiness initiatives, and in others, it helped build momentum in such initiatives that were already underway. In some cities, it also led to experimentation with methods to better target resources to neighborhoods most in need.



We frame our ideas as recommendations for state action since, in this field, the system is structured such that states must be the key actors. However, the federal government should provide strong incentives and support in all cases:

  1. States should catalyze, energize, and support collaborative locally driven initiatives devoted to creating stronger and more coherent school readiness systems in counties that have the potential to sustain them. These initiatives should emphasize strengthening linkages of school readiness services to systems that support school success in early grades.
  2. States should also provide incentives for local initiatives to experiment with targeting school readiness resources and service deployment in neighborhoods most in need.
  3. States should provide incentives for local school readiness initiatives to prepare annual reports assessing their progress and change in the overall state of school readiness locally and assessment of problems and progress at the neighborhood level.
  4. States should significantly expand their efforts to extend the coverage and improve the quality of kindergarten school readiness assessments.


See all NNIP items related to the issues:
Children, School Readiness

Participating Partners:

Neighborhood Nexus
(Inactive) Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies
Center on Poverty and Community Development
Shift Research Lab
(Inactive) Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action
The Children's Trust
(Inactive) Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee
(Inactive) The Providence Plan