2014 Economic Summit on Early Childhood Investment, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Published April 29, 2014 – by Karisia Gichuke

ReadyNation_AE_Logo-01At the beginning of this month I travelled with representatives from the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PFSU) to an economic summit in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was held by Ready Nation/America’s Edge, part of Council for a Strong America, which advocates for investing in young children.

The Bernard van Leer Foundation has been supporting the PFSU for over two years. During that time it has evolved from managing funds for a demonstration project to reduce violence against young children into a more general advocate for the importance of investing in early childhood.

In Harrisburg, the PSFU team heard nationally-recognised American corporate leaders discuss how the foundations of a skilled workforce, responsible community and thriving economy can be built when children’s early years are made the focus of investment.

These business leaders expressed their commitment to family-friendly practices in the workplace, influencing policy makers, and funding initiatives for children. They understand that investment in children provides high returns for society – including their own businesses.

The day opened with Ellen Galinsky, President of the Families and Work Institute, explaining the importance of life skills such as self-control, making connections, and critical thinking. As explored on the FWI’s website Mind in The Making, these skills are crucial for success academically and in the workplace and can be cultivated in children from birth through their early years.

Other speakers included the former CEO of Procter & Gamble and specialists in science and technology who are concerned about the dearth of skilled graduates.

The PFSU left the conference enthused about sharing what they had learned with the business constituency in Uganda. It’s clear that the private sector cannot thrive without a ready and capable workforce; but will corporate leaders act now to shape the skills of the next generation of employees?

For more information on the 2014 Economic Summit on Early Childhood investment, please visit their website.