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Maine Early Learning Investment Group
Professional Development, Financing, Quality Improvement, Financing, Public Engagement & Political Will Building, Professional Development
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ZERO TO THREE Policy Center state updates
Business leaders in Maine are on a mission to improve the quality of early care and education and increase access for all Maine families. The Maine Early Learning Investment Group (MELIG), which was created in January 2012, has pledged to help raise millions of dollars in private funds to achieve this aim. The members of MELIG represent a diverse cross-section of businesses in Maine. They were assembled by Steve Rowe, the state’s former state attorney general, and are being led by Jim Clair, CEO of Goold Health Systems. The group views investment in early childhood through an economic lens. The long-term goals are to improve the quality of Maine’s workforce and decrease the costs of doing business in the state – by lessening future health care, welfare, and other social costs. As part of its fundraising campaign, MELIG will focus on raising public awareness of the connection between investment in early childhood and economic prosperity. MELIG will create a donor-advised fund and encourage private investments in it. Distributions from the fund will target proven strategies to strengthen parenting skills, increase the quality of early care and education and assist families with accessing that quality care and education for their young children.
MELIG has stated it will look to state agencies and nonprofits to help determine where its efforts can have the most impact. The Maine Community Foundation (MCE) will host the donor advised fund and the Maine Development Foundation (MDF) will serve as fiscal agent. In addition, the MCF and MDF will receive, hold, invest, and administer the funds MELIG collects. MELIG has raised between $400,000 and $500,000 through a soft start to fundraising and hopes to amass $10 million to support three educational pilot projects around the state.
The Elevate Maine initiative is a partnership between the Maine Early Learning Investment Group (MELIG) and Educare Central Maine (ECM). Its objectives are to elevate early education to the highest in standards and practice, to elevate student achievement for optimal success in school and beyond and to elevate the quality of Maine’s workforce. Six specific strategies are identified in Elevate Maine’s plan:
Investments that will be implemented statewide: • Campaign to raise public awareness: Elevate Maine will increase public knowledge about the important relationship between high quality early learning and sustained educational and lifelong success. • Early educator training and technical assistance: Elevate Maine will assist early childhood educators to increase the quality and effectiveness of their programs through training and technical assistance.
Investments that will initially be limited to designated areas: • Parent education and mentoring: Through parent education, mentoring and visitation, Elevate Maine will increase parents’ knowledge of child developmental needs and their use of positive, effective parenting skills. • Early educator coaching and mentoring: Elevate Maine will provide coaching and mentoring to early childhood educators to help them increase the quality and effectiveness of their programs. • Professional development scholarships and quality improvement grants: Elevate Maine will provide scholarships to early educators to assist them with enhancing their formal education and/or credentials and provide grants to help programs improve quality. • High quality early education scholarships for at-risk children: Elevate Maine will provide early education scholarships to at-risk children from low-income families so they can attend high quality early care and education programs.