The Memorial Fund strives to be a learning organization – to share information and to learn from those with whom we work: communities, other funders, local and statewide organizations, as well as national funders and organizations. The Memorial Fund also fosters and supports collaboration at all levels of its work – to develop leadership, set goals and make change on behalf of children and families. Below are a few examples of the partnerships in which the Memorial Fund currently participates; each of these efforts works to promote positive outcomes for children, families and communities.
Local Capacity Building Grants for Connecticut Communities In 2007, recognizing that Connecticut communities needed support for planning to make the best use of new state early education investments, the Connecticut State Department of Education, the Early Childhood Education Cabinet and the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund entered into an agreement to provide pooled funding for local communities to develop a comprehensive community-wide plan for young children from birth through age eight. Twenty-seven communities have received planning grants and the Memorial Fund provides ongoing capacity building supports and technical assistance opportunities to advance this work.
Governor Rell’s Early Childhood Research and Policy Council In 2005, with support from Governor M. Jodi Rell the Legislature established the Early Childhood Education Cabinet. The Cabinet was charged with developing a set of agenda items to promote the development of all the state's young children. The Early Childhood Research and Policy Council was formed by Governor Rell in February 2006 to support the work of the Cabinet. The Council represents the business, philanthropic and education communities. David Nee, executive director of the Memorial Fund, John Rathgeber, president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, and Valerie Lewis, then Connecticut’s Commissioner of Higher Education and now Michael Meotti were appointed co-chairs of the Council. At its first meeting in 2006, the Governor asked the Early Childhood Research and Policy Council to take lead responsibility for creation of the Early Childhood Investment Plan. The Council used the Cabinets early childhood framework to produce a plan for implementing the top priorities within the framework.
Early Childhood Funders Affinity group The Memorial Fund participates in the Early Childhood Funders Affinity group coordinated through the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy. The group is comprised of a group of funders—large and small—who make grants to support early care and education in Connecticut. This group has coordinated funding in areas such as facilities and community engagement.
Community Conversations about Education In 1994, the Memorial Fund enlisted the help of Public Agenda, a nonpartisan opinion research and citizen engagement organization, to undertake a public opinion study that would take an in-depth look at Connecticut citizens' views on public education. The product of this work was a report called The Broken Contract: Connecticut Citizens Look at Public Education, which demonstrated that the biggest gulf in the state was not between black and white citizens, nor between urban and suburban communities, nor between the wealthy and the poor, but between educators and the general public. Addressing that gap led the Memorial Fund to shape the “Community Conversations about Education” initiative. This project has now engaged citizens in 85 Connecticut cities and towns, creating an opportunity for communities to engage in civic dialogue about education issues. Citizens begin in this way to find common ground on which to build and implement action plans for improving education and the lives of children.
Early Childhood Education Cost Model Tool Connecticut Health and Education Facilities Authority (CHEFA) partnered with the Hartford Area Child Care Collaborative and the Early Childhood Alliance to develop the Child Care Cost Model, a tool used nationally to estimate the cost of providing early childhood education. This tool has been developed to assist child care providers and policymakers to determine the cost per child of providing early care and education. The Tool is an interactive cost model that estimates the costs of center- and school-based early care and education. The Tool does not endorse any program model or staffing design. Instead, it compares operating costs across many different center-based program models that minimally comply with a state's safety and licensing regulations versus programs that are accredited by national organizations.
The Social State of Connecticut Seeing the need for quality research and information exchange to inform public policy, the Memorial Fund entered into a partnership with the Connecticut General Assembly and the Commission on Children to undertake The Social State of Connecticut report. Since 1994, the report has provided an annual overview of the social health of the state, based on 11 indicators of social well-being. The report has revealed the needs and challenges that exist in this wealthy state. Connecticut was the first state to embed such a report in law. The Social State prompts discussions of policies that can lead to a better quality of life for all.