Center for Early Learning

Center for Early Learning

Our mission is to conduct research, convene community leaders and advocate for change to ensure that young children have access to high-quality early learning opportunities and healthy development. To learn more about the Center for Early Learning, please download our fact sheet.

Policy and Advocacy

Choose Children 2018California is known for its economic strength, world-renowned universities and as a hub of innovation. It is also home to the highest child poverty rate in the United States where two million children live in poverty every day. Research is clear that statewide investments in early childhood policies and programs can help stem poverty. However, California’s investments in early childhood policies and programs do not match the need. The Choose Children 2018 initiative is aimed at ensuring California’s next governor is a champion for children and makes children a statewide priority. To learn more please contact Your donation to this effort will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous investment from the J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation.

Donate Now

Here's an inside look at how philanthropy can make a difference to early childhood education.

High Quality Preschool: Over 10,000 3- and 4-year old, low income children in Silicon Valley are eligible for subsidized preschool, yet there are no affordable programs available to them. The Center is working with local and state partners to advocate for budget and policy solutions that invest in high quality preschool and make it available for all children. Read a letter that SVCF and more than 30 other organizations sent to lawmakers in May 2016 to advocate for greater state investment in early childhood education.

School Readiness Assessments: Every year, 500,000 California children begin their academic careers in kindergarten, 31,000 children in Silicon Valley. Yet California cannot determine how prepared these children are to enter school. Although individual schools and teachers have implemented various methods to determine a child’s readiness, there currently is no universal way to do so. The Center is working with local school districts and state partners to adopt the use of a common school readiness assessment, so in the future early educators and policymakers can direct support and resources to the preschools that need it most. For more information read the 2012 Silicon Valley School Readiness Assessment study.

Kindergarten Resources

Our Kindergarten Readiness Guide gives California families tools and tips to prepare their children for a successful launch into kindergarten. Read the full guide or watch the video series: 

English Español
Kindergarten Guide - English Kindergarten Guide - Espanol
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Strategic Initiatives

The Big Lift is a collective impact collaborative led by the three agencies – SVCF’s Center for Early Learning, the San Mateo County Office of Education and the County of San Mateo – that are partnering with dozens of county leaders and community-based organizations to close the achievement gap and improve third-grade reading proficiency in San Mateo County. These grants are made possible in part by a $7.5 million grant from the federal Social Innovation Fund. 

Raising A Reader is a nationally recognized early literacy program that builds young children’s language and early literacy skills by encouraging parents to read with them. At preschools, elementary schools, home-visiting programs, adult-education centers and family child care homes, the program instills a love of reading for children and families. Every week, bright red bags with award-winning books are rotated, and children take home an age-appropriate set of books to share with their families. The Center provides Raising A Reader to over 300 classrooms and 6,000 children annually in San Mateo County


Preschool Facilities
San Mateo County Child Care and Preschool Facilities Task Force Report

Child Care and Preschool Facilities: Regional planning advocates have long recognized the connections between affordable housing, traffic congestion, jobs and education as key drivers of where families choose to live. The shortage of affordable, high-quality child care and preschool facilities must also be a part of the equation. In 2016, SVCF's Center for Early Learning, in partnership with the San Mateo County Office of Education and First 5 San Mateo County, convened the San Mateo County Child Care and Preschool Facilities Task Force (task force). The task force is consisting of a cross-section of San Mateo County and Bay Area leaders from the government, housing, education, business, faith-based and nonprofit sectors working together to develop a set of recommendations that address the urgent need for child care facilities in the region.

The Parent Story Project is the first-ever regional study that investigates what it is like to be a parent of a young child in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. The Parent Story Project provides us with a better understanding of today’s early learning landscape, the region’s most challenging problems and the ripest opportunities for affecting the lives of Silicon Valley’s youngest children -– birth through age 8 -– and their families. Parent perspectives are captured in this video and in the full report.

Developmental Screening
California Pediatrician Survey on Early Childhood Developmental Screening

Childhood Developmental Screening: Over 21,000 children birth through age 5 in Silicon Valley have a developmental delay that is unidentified and therefore not treated. Without developmental screenings, children with developmental delays will continue to begin school already behind their classmates, and unable to catch up. Early identification of developmental delays and intervention before kindergarten has huge academic, social and economic benefits. The Center is embarking on a research project to gather data on developmental screening efforts in Silicon Valley and will be using these findings for policy and advocacy efforts that lead to universal childhood developmental screenings.