Responding to Challenging Times
The Policy & Leadership Department's approach is anchored in racial equity, deep relationship-building and taking action. As community leaders and groups are tasked with greater demands to lead during increasingly challenging times, we are adjusting our programming to respond to these needs.
We have followed suit with many other organizations that have decided to postpone in-person programming to safeguard against the spread of COVID-19 and acknowledge that there are still too many unknowns with the course of the pandemic. Instead, we will provide virtual tailored coaching and training to leaders and stakeholders who have participated in our programs to:

  1. Activate our base of leaders who will protect and increase early childhood investments.
  2. Deepen data literacy and operationalize data into strategic initiatives.
  3. Enhance awareness of early childhood issues in public policy to rebuild a better early childhood system post-pandemic.

Below are key program updates for this fiscal year, which began July 1, 2020 and ends June 30, 2021.
Early Childhood Leadership Academy (ECLA)
  • The ECLA will delay introducing new cohorts until next year for the Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows and McCormick Foundation Executive Fellows programs. 

  • Nominations for the 2021 McCormick Foundation Executive Fellows program will be announced in February 2021

  • Nominations for the 2021-2022 Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows program will be announced in May 2021

  • ECLA Alumni: Please contact Penny Smith at if you have time-sensitive policy memos or action plans you want to discuss.
Early Development Instrument Project
  • The EDI Project will not implement data collection during the 2020-2021 school year.

  • Community Partners (current and prospective): Please contact Jaclyn Vasquez at if you need immediate assistance with action plans or are interested in implementing the EDI in your community in the future.
The societal benefits of investing in early childhood could not be more paramount and, at this time, our resources are best leveraged by supporting and advancing the work of leaders and stakeholders in our ECLA Alumni base and current EDI partners as they will likely be encountering additional challenges during this period of uncertainty. The pandemic has exacerbated longstanding inequities and family stability issues such as livable wages, hazard pay, access to high quality healthcare and nutrition, affordable housing, and paid family leave. Lastly, with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and countless others in the Black community, it has become even more imperative to advance anti-racist work that leads to dismantling structural racism.

We will continue to provide updates on our programs as well as useful resources.

Stay safe and healthy.

The Policy & Leadership Team