RELEASE: W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fuels Immigrant-Led Advances in Early Learning as System Faces Threats from COVID-19 Impacts

Seattle, WA – Statewide immigrant rights organization OneAmerica has begun an immigrant-led project funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to expand and shore up early learning systems by organizing parents and providers who have been deeply impacted by early learning and childcare due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our early learning system is strained due to COVID-19 and a lack of investments in the workforce, which is largely immigrant women of color providers,” said OneAmerica’s Deputy Director Roxana Norouzi. “At the same time, for parents, early learning remains out of reach for too many families and lack of access worsens the opportunity gap faced by students of color in Washington State. It’s time to make sure those most impacted by these problems play a lead role in determining the solutions, and that’s what Kellogg Foundation’s generous investment in organizing makes possible.”

Efforts will focus on grassroots organizing and coalition building, including training Early Learning Organizing Leaders to serve as ambassadors with grassroots bases in immigrant communities. OneAmerica and partners will grow a grassroots network of 400 immigrant and parent providers to center racial equity in key decisions. This organizing will take place in King, Skagit, Clark and Yakima County, strategic geographies for OneAmerica and places with large populations of immigrant Washingtonians.

The investment of $500,000 over three years from WKKF also supports adult English language program English Innovations, focused on developing English literacy, leadership skills and technical competency of adult immigrants. These skills are core to increasing the economic trajectory of parents and providers, and program participants will also engage in advocacy to add to the broad grassroots movement.

“We know those who are most impacted are also closest to the solutions and must have a stronger voice in our early learning system as it’s evolving and becoming a more formal system,” said Norouzi. “It’s important to have funders like W.K. Kellogg Foundation who recognize the limitations and inequities of grasstops only education strategies that aren’t informed by the community. We need more funders to understand the resilience, resourcefulness and power of immigrant parents and providers and be willing to step up to make this important work possible like WKKF has done. We can create a strong, equitable early learning system that’s accessible to all IF we have the resources to organize to demand it.”

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About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation 

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special attention is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

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