About the Opportunity

In March 2019, WEPOWER’s Tomorrow Builders Fellows began a dynamic journey to reimagine and redesign St. Louis’ early childhood education (ECE) system so it works for all kids and families. To-date, their work has included:

  • intensive development on how to effectively lead equitable systems change efforts.
  • learning about the local, state, and federal climate of early childhood education.
  • visiting cities like Tulsa and Detroit, to study innovations in early childhood education.
  • engaging over 1,000 ECE parents, educators, and stakeholders to understand challenges and dreams.
  • hosting a region wide Dream + Design Kickoff event to build awareness of the challenges that confront so many children, families, and communities and co-create an ECE dream statement.
  • Launching five solution design teams aligned to the recently published First Steps report made up of 63 St. Louisans who will work together July-October to co-create policy-driven solutions and an action plan to ensure forward progress.

Fellows developed a clear problem statement, systems design process, and timeline to guide this phase of their work which requires the engagement and wisdom of subject matter experts like you!

As a Subject Matter Expert, you will share your expertise on specific topics that impact the ECE system to support a Solution Team’s clarity of key challenges and their process of developing responsive solutions that can spark systemic change.

As a Subject Matter Expert, You Will Share:

  • An overview of the topic being addressed and explain how it relates to the Solution Team’s area(s) of focus and overall ECE system, including providing key research and data points
  • Solutions-based policies, practices, and models that support the challenges that stem from the Solution Team’s area(s) of focus
    • clear explanation of solutions to be considered
    • clear explanation of outcomes that result from the implementation of solutions (when possible or explaining that it is an emerging practice with limited evidence and research)
    • potential barriers to consider when implementing the solution(s)
  • Real life case study or example that outlines:
    • the context and climate of the system/region/institution
    • how the solution was implemented (by who, when, costs associated when possible, etc.)
    • impact of the implemented solutions
  • Responses to questions that may arise from the Solution Team members after your formal presentation

Key Logistics:

  • Saturday, August 17th, 9am-1pm
  • 9:50am-11:50am CST | 20 minute Subject Matter Expert blocks for presentations
  • Innovation Hall at CIC@4220 | 4220 Duncan Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110 OR via Zoom video call
  • If finances are a barrier, WEPOWER will cover travel and lodging. We are grateful for your participation and will acknowledge you as a contributor to our process, and we are a startup with limited funds so please keep that in mind.
  • Please share slides and handouts by Wednesday, August 14th for WEPOWER to have time to print and prepare materials for Solution Team members.

Draft Agenda:

  • 10 minute presentation with slides that address the details above
    • Overview of the topic – key research and data
    • Solutions that have led to positive outcomes or emerging practices that may lead to positive outcomes
    • Case study
  • 10 minutes for Q&A with the solution team members

Solution Team Focus Areas…

Through an equity lens, each team will focus on one of the following areas, aligning to IFF’s recent needs assessment report, First Step to Equity:

  • Workforce | “ECE teachers and program leaders are at the heart of a strong ECE system — yet we have a staffing crisis on our hands. Low wages and a lack of benefits have caused high turnover rates in the ECE workforce, keeping qualified ECE teachers from staying in one place.” (Page 20)
  • Quality | “Missouri’s current lack of a common set of standards to measure ECE quality has left many families, providers, and funders uninformed. If we don’t have an objective, standardized way to measure and promote consistent quality for our children’s first educational experience, how can we be sure that they’ll be prepared for every other first in their life?” (Page 24)
  • Funding & Access | “While there are 8,700 children in the St. Louis region who are eligible for state-subsidized ECE services, there are only 3,900 subsidized slots available.” (Page 23)
  • Governance & Coordination | “If our goal is to build and sustain the ECE system throughout the region, we must invest in a formal, staffed entity to coordinate efforts and bring the voices of stakeholders to the forefront.” (Page 26)
  • Family Well-being | This was not explicitly named in the report, but we know it takes a village to support a child’s development. A holistic approach to supporting children and their families will be critical to create an effective ECE system. This includes addressing things like health and financial challenges impacting child and family well-being.