Bay Area Council Blog: Early Childhood Education Archive



The innovative early childhood education program that the Bay Area Council is helping lead in Oakland got some good news this week when Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff generously offered to fund 1,500 more “Talk Read Sing” kits for parents, families and caregivers. The Council launched the Talk Read Sing program last year in partnership with former Sec. Hillary Clinton’s Too Small to Fail organization, with support from Bay Area Council members UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, Kaiser Permanente, UPS and Clear Channel Outdoor. The kits include a t-shirt, bath towel, a baby onesie and other learning materials that feature prompts to encourage and make it easy for busy parents to talk read and sing to their babies and toddlers.

The Talk Read Sing program also was among the topics discussed at a recent meeting in New York that Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman attended as a member of former Sec. Clinton’s Too Small to Fail Advisory Council. In addition to funding the new kits and committing Salesforce employees to volunteer to assemble them, Benioff previously donated $3 million to support the initiative and featured it during the company’s major Dreamforce global conference last year. To engage in our early childhood education work, contact Senior Vice President Matt Regan.



The Bay Area Council Economic Institute this week announced that effective February 1, 2015 Dr. Micah Weinberg will become President, succeeding long-time leader Dr. Sean Randolph as he assumes the new role of Senior Director. The transition comes as the Economic Institute is enjoying a period of robust growth, in both projects and visibility.

“The future of the Economic Institute couldn’t be brighter,” said Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Chair of the Economic Institute Board of Trustees. “We are extremely fortunate to have a leader of Dr. Weinberg’s caliber take the reins at the same time that Dr. Randolph continues to contribute his immense knowledge and talents to the organization. This change will bring new energy to the institute and deepen the expertise we already bring to exploring and understanding the Bay Area’s unique and unparalleled innovation and economic ecosystem.”

Dr. Weinberg is a nationally recognized economic development and public policy expert who has most recently served as Senior Fellow at the Economic Institute and spearheaded the Bay Area Council’s health care policy work. He has emerged as a leading national health policy analyst authoring several major reports through the Institute and appearing regularly as an expert voice in the state and national media.

Read the press release announcing the change>>

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The Bay Area Council this week (Dec. 10) doubled down on its efforts to tackle the region’s most pressing challenges, unveiling a bold policy agenda for 2015 that prioritizes building workforce housing, creating the workforce of the future, securing water supply reliability, battling traffic and modernizing vital communications and energy infrastructure. The Council’s Executive Committee, under the leadership of Chair David Cush, President and CEO of Virgin America, approved a set of policy priorities that include:

Workforce Housing: The Bay Area’s inability to meet housing demand is creating a massive affordability crisis and threatening to hamper the region’s economic growth. The Housing Committee, Co-Chaired by TMG Partners Chairman & CEO Michael Covarrubias and Signature Development Group President Michael Ghielmetti, will focus on ways to ease regulatory barriers and speed new housing in so-called regional “priority development areas.” To engage in our housing work, contact policy Vice President Matt Regan.

21st Century Infrastructure: New energy and communications technologies are essential to building the “smart cities” of the future and driving economic growth. However, the regulatory powers are not keeping pace. Under the leadership of Co-Chairs PG&E Chairman, CEO & President Anthony F. Earley and AT&T California President Kenneth McNeely, the 21st Century Task Force is driving legislative and regulatory change that will enable the development and utilization of advanced energy and communications networks. To engage in the Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure work, contact policy Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Commute Improvement: Growing traffic indicates an expanding economy, but also reflects insufficient transportation capacity and outdated operations. Under the leadership of Arup Principal John Eddy, the Council’s Transportation Committee is focused on leveraging new technologies to boost highway capacity and efficiency, increasing investment in mass transit and identifying new reliable transportation funding sources. To engage in our commute improvement work, contact policy Vice President Michael Cunningham.

Water Supply and Security: With growing and often-conflicting demand and limited supply, ensuring that the Bay Area has sufficient water is vital to the region’s economic health. The Water Committee, Co-Chaired by Montezuma Wetlands Managing Partner Jim Levine and Suffolk Construction Company West Coast President Andrew Ball, will work to ensure Proposition 1 funds support best regional projects and continue to advance coequal goals of supply reliability and environmental preservation in the Bay Delta. To engage in the Council’s water policy work, contact Policy Manager Adrian Covert.

Workforce of the Future: The world of work is changing much faster than the education and training world. This mismatch creates “skills gaps” between what employers want and the skills job applicants possess. Students and educators need better information about the world of work and the skills that are needed for high demand jobs. Employers need strategies for engaging with and influencing the public sector talent/workforce supply chain. The Council will work to establish a regional model of public-private cooperation for the future workforce. To engage in our Workforce of the Future work, contact policy Vice President Linda Galliher.

The Bay Area Council extends its hearty thanks to Board member and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland President and CEO Bert Lubin and Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute Executive Director Janet King for generously hosting our Executive Committee and Board of Directors meeting. The Council has been honored to work with Dr. Lubin in our early childhood education work, including the launch earlier this year of our Talk Read Sing campaign in Oakland.


800 Celebrate Giants Win, Business Leadership at 2014 Annual Dinner

About 800 of our closest friends gathered Wednesday (Oct. 29) for the Bay Area Council’s 69th Annual Dinner and Business Hall of Fame at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, where we honored Intuit Founder Scott Cook and former Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO George Halvorson.

Oh yeah, and we turned the whole event into a big viewing party to watch the San Francisco Giants defeat the Kansas City Royals in a rollicking Game 7 that featured a sublime and historic performance by pitcher and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.

Thank you to Presenting Sponsor Kaiser Permanente and CEO Bernard J. Tyson for their continuing support of the Bay Area Council. Thank you also to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and former Mayor Willie Brown for dropping by to add their congratulations to our two honorees.

See a photo gallery of the festivities.

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Council’s “Talk Read Sing” Initiative Takes Center Stage at Saleforce’s Dreamforce

The Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing early childhood education campaign that the Bay Area Council developed in partnership with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of The Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, got a big boost this week (Oct. 14) at the Salesforce Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman joined Sec. Hillary Clinton, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Next Generation Co-Founder James Steyer and dozens of volunteers to stuff Talk Read Sing tote bags that will be distributed to thousands of Oakland families. Rosemary Turner, Northern California District President of UPS, also participated, along with Bertram Lubin, CEO of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and Dr. Elio Gizzi, East Bay Chief of General Pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente. UPS generously provided the logistical support needed to store and deliver the tote bags and the books, DVDs and other goodies that went in them. The hospitals are serving as major centers of distribution.

The initiative is focused on arming parents and other caregivers with simple tools they can use in their daily lives to close the word gap by talking, reading and singing to very young children.  Children in low-income families hear up to 30 million fewer words by age four than those in higher-income families. This lack of hearing and learning words means these children enter school with smaller vocabularies and far more likely to fall behind; this achievement gap often persists through school and has lifelong implications for success, health and well-being.

Meanwhile, on the opposite coast Council Vice President Matt Regan traveled to the White House on Wednesday (Oct. 15) for a full-day workshop with top business, academic, nonprofit and government leaders to discuss cutting-edge research findings on effective solutions and strategies designed to bridge the early language gap. And on Monday (Oct. 20), Council CEO Wunderman will participate in a White House Town Hall in San Francisco on early education with U.S. Education Sec. Arne Duncan, Early Edge California President Deborah Kong and former state Senate President Darrell Steinberg. To engage in the Council’s early childhood education work, please contact Vice President Matt Regan.

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Giant Step Forward for Council’s Early Childhood Work

The Bay Area Council’s ground-breaking work on early childhood development took a giant step forward last week with the announcement of a new partnership with national powerhouse Too Small to Fail. Council CEO Jim Wunderman joined Sec. Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, July 23 to announce the partnership and unveil an innovative campaign — Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing — being rolled out in Oakland that many believe can become a national model for promoting brain development in children beginning at birth. The Bay Area Council developed the campaign, which is targeted to parents and caregivers, with renowned advertising firm Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

See overview video of the Talk Read Sign campaign.

The Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing campaign will reach thousands of Oakland families over the next several years and is focused on closing the “word gap“—a difference of about 30 million words that children in high-income families hear from parents and caregivers by their fourth birthday, compared to those in low-income families. Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of The Clinton Foundation and San Francisco-based The Next Generation, embraced the campaign and saw its potential to reach a national audience.

With a generous grant from Kaiser Permanente, the Bay Area Council began working last year with Goodby Silverstein & Partners to develop the creative for the campaign, which includes television commercials and radio spots, prompts like “Let’s Talk About the Bus” on billboards and bus shelters around Oakland (donated by Clear Channel Outdoor), as well as a new clothing line for babies and toddlers developed by local apparel manufacturer Oaklandish. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland under the leadership of President and CEO Bert Lubin will serve as a primary channel for reaching parents.

See the Talking commercial.

See the Reading commercial.

See the Singing commercial.

The campaign highlights for parents how simple actions like describing objects seen during a bus ride, singing songs, reading aloud or telling stories can significantly improve babies’ ability to build vocabulary and boost their brain development. The fewer words children hear and learn, the more likely they are to experience an achievement gap, which persists through the preschool and kindergarten years and has a life-long impact on health and well-being. Parents and caregivers can help close the word gap by talking, reading and singing to their children from birth every day.

talkreadsingThe announcement and the innovative messaging campaign attracted global media attention, and was followed up on Thursday (July 24) with a “Baby Shower” hosted by Children’s Fairyland in Oakland where hundreds of families received clothing, blankets and books and were joined by performer José-Luis Orozco, storytellers, storybook characters and community leaders. Sec. Clinton expressed her hope that the Oakland campaign can be expanded to cities around the country.

“There’s no bigger difference we can make in children’s lives than stimulating their brains during the first five years,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of Bay Area Council. “We’re thrilled to partner with Too Small to Fail on this exciting campaign. The thousands of children that will benefit from ‘Talking is Teaching: Talk Read Sing’ could be the next Steve Jobs or Henry Kaiser, leading a new generation of invention, progress and prosperity.”

To engage in the Council’s early childhood education work, contact Vice President Matt Regan.

BTH June 24

Council’s Matt Regan Talks Early Brain Development on ABC 7′s Beyond the Headlines

Bay Area Council Vice President of Public Policy Matt Regan on June 28 appeared on ABC7′s Emmy award-winning public affairs show “Beyond the Headlines” examining early childhood development. Early childhood education is among the top policy priorities for the Bay Area Council because of the significant scientific research showing that there may be no larger return for a child’s future success than investing in growing their brain development from age 0-5.

The Bay Area Council currently is partnering with Too Small to Fail – an initiative of The Clinton Foundation and San Francisco-based Center for the Next Generation – on a groundbreaking, innovative messaging campaign aimed at closing the word gap in lower-income communities. With funding from Kaiser Permanente, the Council and Next Generation developed the campaign with globally renowned San Francisco ad firm Goodby Silverstein. Regan, who appears with U.C. Davis Psychology Professor Dr. Ross Thompson and First 5 California Deputy Director of Programs Diane Levin, unveiled campaign materials and discussed the critical role the region’s business community will play in preparing future generations of well-educated, high-skilled workers.

Watch Beyond the Headlines.



Gov. Jerry Brown traveled south on June 20 to sign a state budget that acknowledges several of the Bay Area Council’s top policy priorities. The overall $156 billion spending plan includes $230 million for various affordable housing programs and $264 million for early education. The housing money, $130 million of which will be channeled from cap-and-trade revenue to support transit-oriented development, comes as the Bay Area confronts a severe housing shortage. While the funding is a positive sign that housing is getting increased attention in Sacramento, the level represents a drop in the bucket against the overall problem. And, it’s unclear how much of the funding will flow to the Bay Area. The Council continues to work with stakeholders in the region on both short- and long-term strategies for spurring more housing across all income levels. The budget also sets aside $264 million for early education, including 11,500 preschool slots for low-income 4-year-olds by June 2015 and another 31,500 slots in future years.


Bay Area Council Poll: Strong Backing for Investing in Early Childhood Development

With early childhood education emerging as hot political topic in the current state budget debate, and one that could figure significantly in the 2016 Presidential race, the 2014 Bay Area Council Poll shows residents here strongly favor investing in programs that promote early childhood development.

For complete results, visit 2014 Bay Area Council Poll.

The poll found 69 percent of Bay Area residents support increasing state and local funding for both early childhood education and prekindergarten programs. Early childhood education is among the top policy priorities for the Bay Area Council, because of the immense body of scientific research showing that there may be no larger return for a child’s future success than investing in growing their brain development from age 0-5.

Bay Area residents apparently follow the research, with 72 percent saying that investing in early childhood education is essential to sustaining economic growth and preparing future generations to compete in the global economy.

“Every dollar we spend now to promote early brain development equals $7 in reduced government spending down the road,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Investing in children during the ages of 0-5 can produce lifelong benefits for families, communities and the economy. Early childhood investment means kids are much better prepared to succeed in K-12 and go on to college, and less likely to end up in prison or suffering from other costly social problems.”

The Bay Area Council currently is partnering with Too Small to Fail – an initiative of The Clinton Foundation and San Francisco-based Center for the Next Generation — on an innovative messaging campaign directed to parents in lower-income communities that Sec. Hillary Clinton said she would like to see become a model for other programs nationally. The Bay Area Council, with funding from Kaiser Permanente, and Center for the Next Generation developed the campaign with globally renowned San Francisco ad firm Goodby Silverstein.

Residents also seem to understand the consequences of failing to invest in our youngest learners, with 69 percent agreeing that improving early childhood development can save billions in spending on remedial education, welfare and prisons. All three of those categories combined make up the bulk of California’s general fund spending, and prisons in particular have experienced stratospheric growth in both inmates and spending over the past 30 years.

“The research is clear, the political will is growing and what we need to do now is get more business leaders to understand how important early brain development can be to their bottom line,” Wunderman said. “This poll certainly shows that the broader public understands and we need to amplify this message to get more CEOs and business on board.”

The 2014 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research, surveyed more than 1,000 residents in an online poll about a range of issues related to economic growth, housing and transportation, early childhood education, energy and communications, and healthcare. The results are being released over five days beginning May 27.


Meeting with Sec. Hillary Clinton Cements Partnership on Early Childhood Education

The Bay Area Council was honored this week to meet with Sec. Hillary Rodham Clinton and cement our partnership with Too Small to Fail and The Clinton Foundation on a campaign to promote the importance of early brain development and close the achievement gap. The Council in recent months has been working closely with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of The Clinton Foundation and San Francisco-based Center for the Next Generation.

Sec. Clinton expressed her hope that the groups will “roll up our sleeves” to develop creative, affordable and scalable ways to close the vocabulary gap among children aged 0-3 and empower them to realize their full potential. She emphasized the vital role of the business community in making this work successful and thanked both the Bay Area Council and CEO Jim Wunderman for demonstrating leadership on the issue over the years.

Wunderman remarked that the research is irrefutable on the importance of investing in early brain development to ensure children’s success later on in life. The Council’s early childhood education work would not be possible without the support of George Halvorson, Chair of the California First 5 Commission and the Council’s Early Childhood Education Committee, and Council member Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente last year provided a $500,000 grant to fund the Council’s early childhood education work along with support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which hosted the meeting with Sec. Clinton.

Other members that have stepped up with support include AT&T, Wells Fargo, The Sobrato Organization, and Clear Channel Outdoor. Said James Steyer, Co-Founder and Chair of Center for the Next Generation and Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media: “This is a movement whose time has come. We have the leaders to make that happen.” To engage in the Council’s early childhood education work, contact policy Vice President Matt Regan.