Start Early Consulting Impact Initiative

2024 applications are now closed.

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Start Early Consulting Impact Initiative

The Start Early Consulting Impact Initiative accelerates early childhood systems’ ability to address issues of equity in priority areas with the support of high-quality consulting.

Through a simple application process, the Impact Initiative pairs systems with experienced Start Early consultants so public sector leaders and advocates can more quickly identify, understand, and address specific equity gaps in policies and programs. The Impact Initiative is designed to boost local systems-building work, offer lessons and insights for other states and communities, and promote equity and quality across the early childhood field.

The Details

The 2024 Impact Initiative will provide 10 or more selected applicants with 100-300 hours of tailored support from Start Early. In a 6-12 month engagement, community-level system leaders will further their work to build high-quality, equitable systems in one of the following areas:

Systems Mapping

Newborn baby and motherSupport for community leaders working to understand their early childhood system’s landscape of funding, programs, and data to improve system equity and effectiveness. The mapping process helps communities engage families and providers to ground data in their lived experiences. Ultimately, systems receive a customized, visual dashboard highlighting strengths and opportunities in their community and providing comprehensive data on: community populations, maternal and child health, family supports, and early childhood programs. Learn more and/or watch a live demo.

Eligible entities: Five community systems will be awarded

Family Centered Design

Support for community leaders to engage family and provider voices in system design using proven human-centered design (HCD) strategies via participation in the pilot of Family-Centered Design – a cohort-based, online training course. Pilot participants gain an introductory understanding of HCD, why it’s an important component in building equitable systems, and how to use HCD processes and strategies to address challenges and opportunities in their system; coaching office hours provide time for additional Q&A. Learn more.

Eligible entities: Two community systems will be awarded

Customized Consulting

Teacher doing activity with studentsCustom consulting from our full menu of services tailored for the unique role community leaders play in shaping and implementing early childhood systems and advancing racial equity. In a co-designed engagement, we support community leaders to drive change in policy and programs, center families and providers, and advance their visions for equitable early childhood systems.

Eligible entities: Four or more community systems will be awarded

Frequently Asked Questions

Please use this form to reach out to the Consulting Team and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

The Impact Initiative is designed to support early childhood systems leaders. The 2024 Initiative is open to community-level system leaders. This includes municipal, county and regional government as well as advocates, coalitions, collective impact initiatives or other organizations or groups working to build more equitable and effective early childhood systems in communities. If you have any questions about your eligibility to apply please contact us here.

The opportunity is open to communities in all states, tribal nations and territories nationally.

For the Systems Mapping and Family Centered Design offerings, we are prioritizing the following states: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and West Virginia.

Yes. We do anticipate high interest in this opportunity so we may need to prioritize working with new communities who have not yet had the benefit of working with us in the past.

No, selected participants in the Impact Initiative will receive consulting from Start Early at no cost to participants.

Yes! We are committed to the Impact Initiative being easy to apply to, and we are dedicated to building a diverse, inclusive, and equitable partnership. We encourage you to apply with the information you do have available. You can upload responses to the applications questions in an alternate format (such as a letter of interest or video) – instructions can be found on the application page.

If you have questions about how to do so or would like additional assistance please contact us here.

A successful engagement will depend on the support requested, but all types of consulting engagements will require a commitment from the team from your organization to partner with Start Early consultants. This will likely include:

  • Regular meetings – a kick-off meeting, regular check-ins, and a final close-out session.
  • Partnering with consultants in planning and communicating about the project and engaging local partners, providers and families as appropriate.

Systems mapping engagements will also include:

  • Identifying data sources and facilitating connections to key contacts for data requests.
  • Partnering to determine specific focus and methods for engaging families and early childhood professionals. Planning and disseminating outreach/recruitment communications. Facilitating connections to local providers as needed.
  • Providing feedback on the utility of the system mapping tool, process and results.

Systems maps support communities to gain a comprehensive and digestible picture of their early childhood system. The system mapping process engages families and early childhood professionals to understand their experiences and perspectives and includes facilitated sense-making sessions with community government leaders, advocates, and program leaders to help communities build a shared understanding of their system. Systems maps provide actionable insights and can fuel quality decisions, policy changes, strategic plans, and other collaborative planning to improve early childhood policies and programs for young children. System mapping is tailored to unique local contexts and may help your community answer questions such as:

  • What are family experiences, priorities and needs in finding and accessing early care and education for their children in our community?
  • How many 3- to 5-year-old children are served across publicly funded early childhood programs? Do children have equitable access? What are the gaps?

Learn more.

Watch a live demo.

Family-Centered Design is an 8-week online course that helps communities learn concrete tools and strategies from Human-Centered Design (HCD) to elevate family and community voice in the design of early childhood systems. The course is designed for teams of community leaders, parents, providers, and government employees to come together to gain an overview of human-centered design and understand why it is an important component of building equitable systems and how to use the HCD process and strategies to address challenges and opportunities in their communities. Participants receive extra support through weekly virtual coaching sessions. By the end of the course, participants will have a better understanding of the strategies and mindsets needed to engage in human-centered design, including:

  • Best practices for gathering data from the community through interviews and observations
  • Making sense of stories and data
  • Brainstorming and ideation with community members
  • Prototyping to test and refine new ideas
  • Learn more.

    Note: Leaders applying to participate in Family-Centered Design through the Impact Initiative will be joining a pilot of the course.

You can find the complete menu of available consulting services on our website for ideas on what supports might be a good fit for your community. You can also review case studies from other states and communities we’ve worked with and Check our our sample engagements.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or if this process raises barriers to your participation and/or you require additional assistance, please reach out to our team.

Email Our Team

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