the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: Invest in US: The White House Summit on Early Childhood Education

Last year, President Obama called upon Congress to expand access to high-quality preschool for every child in America, proposing investments that would support a continuum of early learning opportunity from birth through kindergarten entry.  In January, he challenged more Americans – elected officials, business leaders, philanthropists, and the public – to help more children access the early education they need to succeed in school and in life.  Over the course of the past year, significant progress has been made, and bipartisan cooperation has led to a substantial increase in federal investment in early education.

Today, the President convenes state and local policymakers, mayors, school superintendents, corporate and community leaders, and advocates for the White House Summit on Early Education, highlighting collective leadership in support of early education for America’s children.  Leaders will share best practices in building the public-private partnerships that are expanding early education in communities across the country.  Participants will discuss effective strategies and programs that support and bring high-quality early childhood education to scale.   

Leading private and philanthropic organizations will commit to new actions at the White House Summit that spur greater access to high-quality preschool and early learning.  Together with federal awards, this amounts to a collective investment of over $1 billion in the education and development of America’s youngest learners.  It includes:  

  • Over $330 million in new actions from corporate and philanthropic leaders to expand the reach and enhance the quality of early education for thousands of additional children.
  • Up to $750 million in new federal grant awards announced by Secretaries Duncan and Burwell, to support early learning for over 63,000 additional children across the country.  These investments will expand high-quality preschool or grow the supply of early care and education for infants and toddlers beginning next year.
  • The launch of Invest in US, a new initiative created by the First Five Years Fund, a bipartisan non-profit organization, in partnership with  private philanthropic leaders, in response to the President’s call for action.
  • New private and philanthropic resources and support for Early Learning Communities, an initiative of Invest in USInvest in US will connect communities and states interested in expanding early learning programs and opportunities with 10 leading partners that have committed to helping connect leaders with resources, planning grants, technical assistance, and other support for their youngest learners.


Since 2013, 34 states have increased funding for their preschool programs, amounting to over $1 billion in new state resources dedicated to early education. In November, voters approved pre-K ballot initiatives in San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver.  Communities across the country have engaged public and private partners to establish new preschool programs, and push forward with a major expansions to become strong early learning communities. 

An analysis released today by the White House Council of Economic Advisers describes the economic returns to investments in early childhood education, including increased parental earnings and employment in the short-term, reduced need for remedial education and later public school expenditures, as well as long-term outcomes such as increased educational attainment, increased earnings, improved health, and decreased involvement with the criminal justice system. 

  • Research suggests expanding early learning initiatives would provide benefits to society of roughly $8.60 for every $1 spent.
  • Earnings gains from increased enrollment in early childhood education would provide benefits that outweigh the costs of the program. Researchers estimate the gain in income for recent statewide programs over a child’s career to be $9,166 to $30,851, after taking out the cost of the program. If enrollment increased by 13 percentage points, in the long-run these earnings gains translate into an increase in GDP of 0.16 to 0.44 percent.   


Launch of “Invest in US”Invest in US is an independent initiative organized by the First Five Years Fund and its partners in response to the President’s call for action.  It challenges public and private partners, business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, elected officials, and individuals to build a better nation by expanding high-quality early childhood education.  Invest in US will serve as a hub to aggregate momentum and support for early learning and provide resources to community leaders working to expand access to early childhood education. 

Over $330 million in new public-private actions in support of early childhood education, including commitments to America’s early learners from corporate, philanthropic and non-profit partners: 

  • As part of the launch of Disney Imagicademy, The Walt Disney Company is committing $55 million in high-quality learning apps and books to First Book and other non-profit organizations to make print and digital tools more accessible to young learners across the country.  
  • $5 million from the LEGO Foundation to launch an Early Learning Initiative with New Profit, Inc. and empower children to become creative and engaged lifelong learners.
  • $5 million from PVH Corp. to support early education programs operated by Save the Children.
  • The Map, Link and Rethink Early Learning for the Digital Age project from Sesame Workshop, to create new tools for assessing the potential of emerging technologies and to build a professional learning community.
  • $25 million over 5 years from the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation to scale evidence-based early childhood programs, advance early learning Social Impact Bond investments, and further research on economic efficacy of government investments that transform the lives of disadvantaged young children and families. 
  • $20 million from The Kresge Foundation in new commitments over 5 years to build out a high-quality early childhood development system in the City of Detroit in collaboration with local, state, and federal partners.
  • $15 million from Susan A. Buffett and Partners to expand high-quality early childhood services for an additional 192 infants, toddlers, and their families in Omaha, Nebraska, as the city expands preschool.
  • More than $7 million in shared investments from Illinois-based foundations to leverage federal grant funding and ensure that children and families have access to high-quality early learning services from prenatal to age 5. 
  • $10.2 million in new resources from philanthropic and private partners in the Greater Cleveland Community, to expand early childhood education programs, including the PRE4CLE initiative.

Support for Early Learning Communities across the nation.  Today, the White House will release a Playbook to offer strategies for local leaders to develop and expand early education in their communities.  Invest in US will announce increased capacity to support community and state leaders interested in expanding early learning programs and opportunities.  Ten organizations have stepped up to help connect leaders and as resources become available, they will provide technical assistance, planning grants, and other resources to Early Learning Communities.  Invest in US partners supporting the Early Learning Communities initiative include the Alliance for Early Success; The BUILD Initiative; the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative; Early Childhood-LINC at the Center for the Study of Social Policy; The National Association of Counties; the National Governors Association; the National Institute for Early Education Research; The National League of Cities, The Ounce of Prevention Fund, and The U.S. Conference of Mayors.


$250 million from the U.S. Department of Education under the Preschool Development Grants programSecretary Duncan will announce awards for 18 states to expand the reach of their high-quality preschool programs in over 200 high-need communities, to enroll over 33,000 additional children.  Winning states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.

Up to $500 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships programSecretary Burwell will announce 234 preliminary awards for hundreds of communities across 49 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands.  Together, these awards will support communities as they improve and expand comprehensive early care and education for over 30,000 infants and toddlers next year.

Expanding Preschool for School TurnaroundThe Obama Administration has proposed new regulations to establish high-quality preschool expansion as a core strategy for school turnaround in America’s lowest-performing elementary schools. These regulations, proposed under the School Improvement Grants program (SIG), will enable school leaders to pursue preschool expansion while also promoting full-day kindergarten and reform of teaching and learning in the early grades.  Today, the U.S. Department of Education will release three case studies that highlight the progress SIG schools have made by focusing on early learning.  The final SIG regulation will be released in 2015.

New Investments in Pay for Success Transactions for Early Education.  The Corporation for National and Community Service’s Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and the Institute for Child Success (ICS) will make new resources available to help states and municipalities launch evidence-based early childhood interventions, by providing coaches and advisors to assist communities in developing Pay for Success transactions for early childhood investments.  ICS will launch a competition to select 12 jurisdictions interested in supporting and creating a cohort of experts in early childhood and Pay for Success.

Curbing Preschool Suspension and Expulsion: Exclusionary discipline practices occur at high rates in early learning settings, and at even higher rates for young boys of color.  As part of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative, Secretaries Duncan and Burwell will release a joint policy statement to address expulsion and suspension practices in early learning settings, encouraging states, early childhood programs, and families to prevent, reduce, and eliminate the expulsion and suspension of young children from child care and preschool programs.  As part of this commitment, Secretary Burwell will dedicate $4 million toward early childhood mental health consultation services to prevent this troubling practice and to help all children thrive in early learning settings.  


These efforts build on the President’s call in his 2013 State of the Union address to expand access to high-quality preschool for every child in America, through a series of new investments that  establish a continuum of high-quality early learning for a child—beginning at birth and continuing to age 5. 

  • Providing High-Quality Preschool for Every Child:  The President has proposed a new federal-state partnership to provide all low- and moderate-income four-year old children with high-quality preschool, while also expanding these programs to reach additional children from middle class families and incentivizing full-day kindergarten policies. This investment – financed through a cost-sharing model with states – will help close America’s school readiness gap and ensure that children have the chance to enter kindergarten ready for success.  Congress provided $250 million in FY2014 under the Preschool Development Grants program.
  • Growing the Supply of Effective Early Learning Opportunities for Young Children: To expand high-quality early learning opportunities in the years before preschool, the President has called for a significant investment in  Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.  Congress provided $500 million in FY2014 funding to support communities that expand the availability of Early Head Start and child care providers that meet the highest standards of quality for infants and toddlers, serving children from birth through age 3. 
  • Extending and Expanding Evidence-Based, Voluntary Home Visiting: Voluntary home visiting programs enable nurses, social workers, and other professionals to connect low-income families to services and educational support  shown to improve a child’s health, development, and ability to learn.   President Obama has called for an expansion of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program beyond the tens of thousands of children already reached, to support  additional families in need. Congress acted this year on a bipartisan basis to extend funding for this important program through Spring, 2015.


Since taking office, President Obama has committed to a comprehensive early learning agenda for America’s children that provides the support and services needed to set them on a path of success in school and in life:

Launching the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge: President Obama has challenged states to close the school readiness gap through the Early Learning Challenge, a competitive fund that has enabled 20 states to increase the quality of their early education programs, to establish higher standards across programs and to provide critical links with health, nutrition, mental health, and family support for our neediest children.  20 states have been rewarded with grants totaling $1 billion provided under this program.

Strengthening Head Start and Early Head Start: President Obama has invested over $2.1 billion in Head Start and Early Head Start to enroll an additional 61,000 children and provide them with the educational, health, nutrition, social and other services they need to grow up healthy and ready for school.  The Administration has also implemented needed reforms in the program, identifying and requiring lower-performing providers to compete for funding in order to ensure that families and children receive the best services and support, while also pioneering innovative approaches to a full continuum of services for children from birth through school-entry.

Reforming the Federal Child Care System: President Obama has taken consistent steps to improve the early care and education available to families through the Child Care and Development Fund, investing more than $2 billion to assist hundreds of thousands of children and families at the height of the recession.   The CCDF helps nearly 900,000 families pay for child care for over 1.4 million children each month.  In November, the President signed the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014, raising health and safety requirements for child care providers, outlining family-friendly eligibility policies, and ensuring that parents have information about the child care choices available to them.

Offering Voluntary, Evidence-Based Home Visiting: Established in 2010, the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program supports voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services to parents with young children up to age five.  The program builds on research showing that home visits by a nurse, social worker, or other professional during pregnancy and in the earliest years of life can significantly improve maternal and child health, child development, learning, and success.  $1.9 billion has been committed by Congress for voluntary home visiting across all 50 states, supporting to date  more than 1.4 million  visits in over  700 communities.  President Obama will pursue substantial investments to extend and expand  this important program to reach additional families in need.