Investing in Preschool Education

“It’s the essential promise of America that where you start should not and will not determine how far you can go.”
   ~President Barack Obama, White House Summit on Early Education, December 10, 2014

Annie TeichIn the recent MCH 4th Annual Principals’ Assessment of Public Education report, 56.0% of principals reported that they already have a preschool program at their school. This number increased two percentage points over the previous year’s report. Another 8.9% of principals responded that adding a preschool program is under consideration. According to the report then 65% of public elementary principals have or are considering the addition of a preschool program.

Investing in our children is a topic that most of us can agree on. In fact, it is one of the many reasons we are in the education business. To immerse as many children as possible in rich and dynamic learning environments. While research has long shown the value of early education for setting the stage for later life success, there is a new report that quantifies the ROI of that investment – particularly for disadvantaged students. The promise of high quality early education is that all children can have bright futures.

The Economics of Early Childhood Investment report by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors “suggests expanding early learning initiatives would provide benefits to society of roughly $8.60 for every $1 spent, about half of which comes from increased earnings for children when they grow up.” This could have an enormous impact on our economy. In commenting on the report, the President said that the impact of investment in early education does “not just grow the economy, but changes young lives forever.”

There used to be little overlap between the early childhood and the K-12 sales channels. But the addition of public preschool for 4-year-olds is changing that. In fact, some early childhood providers have added primary divisions to their companies to expand into new market segments. The economics of marketing to multiple grades is not much different than marketing to just preschool educators. Early childhood companies now have the opportunity to sell more of their products into the “regular” K-12 channel.

And now there will be more funding available to support early education in public schools. At the White House Summit on Early Education last month, the president announced two major initiatives that collectively provide $1 billion to create better access to quality early education. $750 million of federal money includes $250 million in new Preschool Development Grants from the Department of Education.

The president also announced a $330 million commitment from private organizations such as the Barbara Bush Literacy Foundation, Bezos Family Foundation, and Common Sense Media who are working together at InvestinUs.org – a coalition of private funders who support early childhood education. This group of elected officials, community leaders, educational advocates, and philanthropists are working together to support additional investment in high-quality early education. The economic drivers behind this investment strategy offer a clear return – for the individuals involved, but also for our country’s economic strength. Be sure to check out the group’s manifesto.

MCH is extremely knowledgeable about the early childhood market. In fact, there are more than 38,000 school-based early childhood programs in their database. Given the attention that these national efforts are generating on the benefits of early education and the funding behind it, there is significant growth opportunity for education marketers. Early childhood providers can expand into the early grades in public school while K-12 marketers can add early childhood products to their K-12 mix.

How is the increase in public school preschool programs affecting your business?