Silver Giving Foundation, a California-based philanthropic organization, focuses on expanding educational opportunities for California’s children, strengthening democracy, and ending homelessness for families. Its work to support our youngest learners — Pre-K through 3rd grade — is taking on critical importance as California’s population grows and shifts. Over 60 percent of children grow up in households where a language other than English is spoken. And knowing that public schools are not designed to meet this moment, Silver Giving is marshaling resources and knowledge to achieve the state’s vision for multilingual school systems that celebrate diverse, multilingual communities.
Starting in 2012, Silver Giving partnered with New Teacher Center to bring a people-driven, coaching-based support approach to adults across school and early learning ecosystems. “Everything rises and falls on the capacity of the different people who are in community with children and families through our education system,” said Macy Parker, program director at Silver Giving. “Without the people at the heart of the work, getting the support that they need, success is just not going to happen.” Trusting relationships and human-centered learning experiences for educators continue to be the lever for pushing educator practices to meet today’s students’ rich and diverse needs at the beginning of their education paths.
California’s Master Plan for Early Learning and Care calls for creating a publicly-funded developmentally appropriate grade for four-year-old early learners — transitional kindergarten (TK) — by all local education agencies operating kindergarten by 2025-26. The opportunities and challenges are larger than life. Staffing, credentialing, and supporting up to 11,000 new educators amid teacher shortages is one key focus area for Silver Giving and New Teacher Center. This opening also invites a meaningful conversation around what young learners’ development should look like from Preschool up through 3rd grade. It offers the chance to build more vital bridges for young learners to experience equitable and engaging learning environments in their foundational years. “We’re so excited to see NTC taking some of what is magical and expansive about the early education space, like developmentally appropriate instruction, and providing those educators with the respect that they deserve by continuing to support them while expanding practices for a more cohesive learning experience,” said Parker. NTC is poised to help educators prepare young learners as they grow into elementary school students and beyond.
Silver Giving’s support is advancing NTC’s unique stance as a rare partner with 20+ years of experience working on both sides: early learning and K-12. NTC is steeped in attending to the connection and throughline of brain development for young learners, and how that leads to grade-level preparedness later on. These lessons learned from supporting early learning teams — early childhood centers, early learning teams within districts, and K-12 teams — in school districts nationwide and different models for integration set up a rich knowledge base (around PreK-3 alignment) to draw from moving forward. It’s a bridge for cohesion and continuity, creating sound and sensible strategies for learners to move through developmentally appropriate practices with ease. “NTC is well-positioned to lead on and make recommendations about educator support and practice [aligned to a PreK-3 approach] for California,” said Parker. “Helping LEAs focus on coherence building that reflects incredible alignment horizontally and vertically across people and systems.” New and innovative services like NTC’s Direct-to-Educator support connections across a historical divide, encouraging connection and confidence in what will be a new community ecosystem for schools. At its core, bringing together ideas from historically separate spaces will help young learners to build a joyful relationship with their school community and be better prepared for their early elementary years.
Underpinning all this remains that the majority of students entering into TK will be emergent bilingual, learning multiple languages. Parker emphasizes that efforts, like its partnership with NTC, must be on how we build scaffolds and design new systems that treat demographic realities as a gift and opportunity rather than an obstacle to be circumnavigated.
“Silver Giving is excited about the role that NTC can play in helping people see into each other’s spaces,” said Parker. “We have an amazing early education workforce, but we need the highest quality support for their individual success and the broader vision of continuity that gives every learner an equitable, developmentally appropriate, and strengths-based path.”
NTC is grateful for our partnership with Silver Giving Foundation and is proud to be supporting young learners and multilingual students in California.