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UMass Boston Leadership Institute Creates Early Childhood Support Organization with $3.75M Grant

(The following was adapted from a UMass Boston blog post)

The Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation (the Leadership Institute), housed in UMass Boston’s College of Education and Human Development, announces today that it is designing a new Early Childhood Support Organization (ECSO) for the state’s licensed early care and education programs. The Leadership Institute is partnering with longtime collaborators the UMass Donahue Institute (UMDI) and Start Early (formerly the Ounce of Prevention) to deliver services. The 4.5-year, $3.75 million project is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care and New Profit, a venture philanthropy organization that invests in systems change initiatives that break down barriers to opportunity.

“The ECE field urgently needs high impact professional and leadership development supports that promote early educators’ expertise and abilities to improve program quality,” said Anne Douglass, PhD, the Leadership Institute’s founder and executive director. “Research shows that to be effective, ECE educators and leaders need a workplace context that is designed to develop and sustain teachers’ ongoing learning and practice.”

The ECSO offers leadership coaching and training to ECE program administrators to cultivate the skills necessary to create cultures of continuous learning and improvement in organizations and establish professional development opportunities in the workplace that strengthen teaching quality and children’s learning.

Applied Research & Program Evaluation (ARPE), a business group of UMass Donahue Institue, will provide evaluation support for the UMass Boston/Start Early ECSO. "We are currently working with the UMB/Start Early team to develop a system to collect participant engagement, feedback, and outcome data once the program gets underway." said Jen Gordon, ARPE director.

“The ECSO offers program leaders high-quality professional development to gain knowledge, coaching to transfer knowledge into practice, and opportunities for peer learning to support their efforts to continuous improvement,” said Grace Cruz, Director of Early Childhood Support Organizations at the Leadership Institute. “With this support, they’re able to build warm and professional work cultures that prioritize ambitious instruction, inquiry-based learning, and the use of data to assess progress.”

“Start Early is thrilled to bring our national experience with The Essential Leadership Model to support leaders across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts strengthen the organizational conditions of their sites, and improve outcomes for leaders, teachers, children and families,” said Maribel Centeno, Start Early’s Director of Practice Development and Improvement.

UMass Boston College of Education and Human Development Dean Joseph Berger added: “Early childhood education is the essential foundation for improving all levels of education. I am proud of the ongoing leadership provided by the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation as they apply their exceptional expertise to improving quality and equity of early childhood education throughout the state and beyond.” 

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