Veteran educator tapped to lead Hope Starts Here early childhood education initiative

Nov 20, 2019 by

Sherri Welch –

  • Denise Smith will lead $50 million Hope Starts Here initiative
  • Effort is designed to make Detroit a city that puts children first by 2027
  • Smith will review current, planned efforts at Hope Starts Here summit in Detroit Friday
Darrel Ellis/The Kresge Foundation
Denise Smith

The Kresge and W. K. Kellogg foundations have named Denise Smith, a veteran early childhood educator and administrator, as the implementation director for the $50 million Hope Starts Here initiative working to strengthen Detroit’s early childhood education system.

The effort launched two years ago after a year of input from 18,000 Detroiters and more than 240 community and educational experts. Its goal is to make Detroit a city that puts children first by 2027.

Smith most recently served as executive director of the Flint Early Childhood Collaborative and Educare-Flint and an unpaid member of the Hope Starts Here stewardship board, an advisory body consisting of 20 community leaders and early childhood advocates.

Chosen from a national pool of candidates, Smith will coordinate funding and other efforts.

Early efforts planned as part of Hope Starts Here include: renovation and construction of child care facilities, early care and education scholarships, and fellowships and technical assistance for providers.

Advocates have been working over the past two years to advance a half-dozen imperatives identified in the framework through collaboration and coordination among Detroit’s early childhood partners, namely:

  • Promote the health, development and well-being of all Detroit children
  • Support parents and caregivers as children’s first teachers and champions
  • Increase the overall quality of Detroit’s early childhood programs
  • Guarantee safe and inspiring learning environments for children
  • Create tools and resources to better coordinate systems that impact early childhood
  • Find new ways to fund early childhood and make better use of existing resources

Early childhood education advocates and leaders plan to gather Friday on the Marygrove College campus to share the efforts that are part of the initiative and those that are taking shape. An estimated 400 early childhood advocates, including national speakers, are expected to attend.

Source: Veteran educator tapped to lead Hope Starts Here early childhood education initiative

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