Annual Luncheon explores effects of scarcity and impact of early learning

“I used to think poverty was about not having enough money—which obviously it is—but I hope you understand that poverty also taxes the brain. And that it is as much about not having enough bandwidth as it is about not having enough money.” — Keynote Speaker Sendhil Mullainathan

What happens when people have too little was the engaging and thought-provoking topic of conversation at the Ounce It’s Good Business to Invest in Young Children Annual Luncheon on April 26, 2016.

More than 875 early childhood champions joined the Ounce to explore the effects of scarcity—as well as how quality early learning can help mitigate these effects and unlock the potential in all children.

“If we work together, we have the ability to mitigate the stresses that young children and families face,” said Ounce Chairman of the Board Anne Lea Tuohy. “The Ounce helps children gain the skills, the confidence and the resources to dream—and to achieve their dreams.”

Guest speaker Sendhil Mullainathan, professor of economics at Harvard University and co-author of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, led an interactive presentation on how scarcity of anything—whether it be time, money, sleep or food—drives behavior.
“At every level the mind is fixated on what it doesn’t have,” Mullainathan, said “This is about the psychological experience of having too little.”

Luncheon Chair David Casper, president and chief executive officer at BMO Harris Bank, lead corporate sponsor for the luncheon, emphasized that “Kids are born learning.” And that the “attention we give them is crucial” as children are learning to learn during the first few years of life. Casper encouraged the crowd to read, talk and nurture their children—and to think of other children.

“If we invest in early childhood programs, we will see a brighter future,” Casper said.

Ounce President Diana Mendley Rauner wrapped the event by bringing home the power of quality early education. “The science is indisputable. Early learning can change lives,” she said.

To view highlights from the luncheon, please watch the video below.