News & Media

Early Learning Ventures and the Merage Foundation Featured at National Funders Convening

Jun 09 2014

Sue Renner, Executive Director of the Merage Foundations spoke at a gathering of philanthropists in Washington, D.C., this weekend about the foundation’s efforts to fund programs promoting early literacy, specifically, Early Learning Ventures (ELV).

At a meeting organized by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Sue described how Early Learning Ventures (ELV) is increasing the operational efficiencies of child care providers allowing them to provide higher quality care at a lower cost.

“ELV brings child care businesses together to obtain lower costs through economies of scale in operational functions like purchasing, classroom resources, program administration, human resources, marketing, and online training that meets current child care licensing requirements, as well as a child management system,” said Sue. “This web-based system creates accurate and professional records and reports, while helping to streamline and increase the efficiencies of management. In fact, an independent study found a return on investment of up to $8.08 for every dollar spent using the ELV model,” she added.

The David and Laura Merage Foundation is one of more than 200 family, corporate and community foundations and United Ways supporting the local work in GLR Campaign nationwide to ensure that more children from low-income families master reading by the end of third grade. Third grade reading is a critical milestone on the path to high school graduation and career success.

The GLR Campaign also works with national nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and more than 140 communities to promote solutions to a reading crisis in this country: 80 percent of low-income fourth graders are not reading proficiently.

At the Funder-to-Funder Huddle on June 6 and 7, Sue spoke to national and corporate funders, as well as state and local foundations to share strategies for improving early reading. A panel of federal agency officials offered an overview of recent developments and emerging opportunities for funding and collaborating around grade-level reading.

And representative from states and communities gave short talks about how they are making progress on such as issues as preparing children for kindergarten, supporting and engaging parents, improving attendance in the early grades, reducing summer learning loss and promoting good health.

GLR Campaign Managing Director Ralph Smith praised the work done by local foundations. “Crucial to sustaining the campaign’s efforts is the steadfast commitment of local funders who understand the context, history, and changing dynamics of their communities and plan to stay actively engaged through the inevitable bends in the road,” he said.

Sue’s talk focused on detailing how Early Learning Ventures is providing an environment where early child care providers are better equipped to offer high-quality care by saving them time and money, and thus, allowing them to focus on the most important part of their day – caring for and educating children. At the current time, ELV is being utilized by over 550 child care centers, serving over 33,000 children in Colorado.