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Aligning Efforts So All Children Succeed

The Early Learning Alliance (ELA) is a working group that  includes over 50  diverse organizations and individuals.  ELA formed in 2013 with the support of a technical assistance grant through the National League of Cities and funding from the North Texas Community Foundation. Key drivers in bringing the group together and keeping them at the table are increased awareness of  and support for early childhood issues at multiple levels, a strategic approach, a community focus, forward momentum “chipping away” at the issue, and their relationships with and respect for each other, with willingness to have 

uncomfortable and “courageous”  conversations.

The Alliance selected three (3) areas for focused improvement: 

  • Transformative Family Engagement,

  • Improving Quality by Designing Coordinated Early Childhood Professional Development, and 

  • Data Sharing Across Systems 


Additionally, the ELA team selected to intentionally focus on governance. This year, ELA is also exploring how the health sector and ELA may align.


NLC member city, Fort Worth, Texas, was selected as a NOW Bright Spot because of its success in aligning efforts around early childhood through intentional governance.  Through strategic focus ELA is maintaining its multi--stakeholder collaboration and making  improvements to the early childhood systems.

Additionally, The Power of Seven — a transformative family engagement initiative — has engaged 198 parents and counting , to empower and support parents.


ELA’s intentionality around governance is one of its keys to success.  ELA selected to have the initial 28 organizations sign Letters of Commitment and make a financial contribution to the Alliance which was based on the organizations budget.  This was done to establish a commitment to the work and as a member of ELA, ELA is adopting rules/bylaws which identify how decisions will be made.  There is allowance for members difference of opinion on issues and positions.  For example, an ELA position statement is signed by the Alliance with supporting partners listed.  This allows a partner to opt-in or opt-out, Backbone support and funding: ELA has a dedicated coordinator that works with ELA leaders and sub-committee leaders to advance the work and track accountability. In addition to the financial contributions of ELA members, the Alliance received toolkit grants from the North Texas Community Foundation.  This provided funding to support the coordinator position and take action on the three (3) strategic focus areas selected.


198 is the number of community and family members of the Stop Six neighborhood who have participated in the Power of Seven, a transformative family engagement initiative of the ELA.  Beginning with 7 parents who participated in training and continue to meet monthly, then these 7 new leaders each engaged and invited 7 more, who then they each invited 7 more.  Each group of 7 meets, supports and works together with support of the initial 7 and Loretta Burns, AB Christian Learning Center.

The training sessions consisted of 3 sessions: Leadership & Responsibility (8 hours); Teamwork & Collaboration (5 hours); and Diversity (4 hours).  Additionally, 68 individuals from local organizations and schools have been trained in engaging families through The Parenting Center.


ELA has developed a Theory of Change and identified three (3) focus areas for improvement. The Data Sharing sub-committee is working to align currently existing data sets for use, with the long-term goal of an integrated system.  

Mapping of at risk communities by Cook Children’s Hospital, Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment (C4PCM) was used to identify areas within Fort Worth that are considered high risk for child maltreatment.  ELA will work with C4PCM and the Fort Worth Independent School District to overlay results of C4PCM mapping and FWISD’s results from the Early Development Instrument (EDI) administered at 13 elementary schools.


ELA has engaged Clear Impact, to utilize their Results Based Accountability model to set goals and monitor progress, with a focus on racial equity and disparities, along with the goal to develop a scorecard.


Equity is named at the foundation of the ELA framework and it has a  acial Equity taskforce to bring equitable intentionality to its work. Family Engagement and empowerment is providing skills and connection for change in the Stop Six neighborhood. Setting targets and goals utilizing Clear Impacts, Result Based Accountability model.


Sandra Lamm, Coordinator

Early Learning Alliance 

ELA@Early Learning 

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