Investing in early learning & childhood is known as an increasingly proven, effective way to be an Impact Giver and the inspiration for innovative approaches sometimes come in unexpected ways, even from a hairdryer! The first time I saw the bright screen in a dimly-lit lab with signals firing in a baby’s brain from this hair dryer-like contraption, I was blown away. How could there be so much going on inside that child’s mind? That research, ongoing today, didn’t just change how I thought about a baby’s brain; in 2006 it began to revolutionize how everyone thought about early learning. And it’s changed how people think about giving with impact.
Nobel prize winning economist, Jim Heckman, estimates that $17 of economic value is returned long-term for every $1 invested in early childhood.”
And if that’s not enough, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is touting the role of high-quality early learning in the future competitiveness of our workforce. There has been a revolution in our understanding of children’s minds, brains, and learning capacities and we now recognize that young children know, feel, and learn more than we ever imagined.”
In 2006, using a MEG machine (that’s a whole other story), Dr. Patricia Kuhl at the University of Washington Kuhl and faculty member Toshisaki Imada were the first in the world to record brain activity in awake infants. Over the past 11 years, this brain technology has helped us learn simple things like babies can start developing bilingual skills with just one hour of play per day to identifying the conditions that expand critical periods for learning and the link between early trauma and lifelong mental health issues. Today, there are even tools, from the Bezos Family Foundation, to help parents become better brain builders.
This takes me back to the early years of my three baby boys. I knew that playing with them, bouncing the ball, talking baby talk was fun and created some great memories. Now I also know it was helping their brain development, I just didn’t have that big hair dryer to show me.
Paul Shoemaker is the Founding President of Social Venture Partners and Strategic Advisor to Giving Compass
Impact Philanthropy is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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