Early Learning Impact Stories Shared at Annual Luncheon

“I’m looking forward to finishing high school with great grades, and then attending one of my top three colleges: Harvard, Stanford or Yale. I would like to ultimately be a neurosurgeon or practice politics…Someday, I want to be president, after running a long line of successful mayoral and senate campaigns.” – Alex, Educare Chicago graduate.

These are the energetic, ambitious and heartfelt words of Alex, a freshman at Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School and one of the first graduates of Educare Chicago. He shared his dreams for the future with more than 850 corporate, civic and early learning leaders and philanthropists at the Ounce It’s Good Business to Invest in Young Children annual luncheon on April 20, 2015.

Presented by lead corporate sponsor, BMO Harris, and Co-Chairs Trish and Glen Tullman, the luncheon featured keynote speaker Jackie Bezos, president of the Bezos Family Foundation. In addition to Alex, attendees were also inspired by first-hand impact stories from Patricia Ceja-Muhsen, a doula in the Ounce Healthy Parents & Babies program, and Portia Kennel, Ounce Senior Vice President of Program Innovation.

Babies are born learning, and to give them the strongest start possible in life, we need to empower parents, caregivers and early learning professionals with the tools to make an impact. As Keynote Speaker Jackie Bezos pointed out so eloquently, “Simple exchanges–like counting toes or pointing to something and sparking a conversation even when the baby can’t talk back. These interactions create the brain architecture that is essential for every child’s success in school, and life.  This means that every time we look into a child’s eyes or we coo or babble, we’re not only building a brain, we are building the foundation for our collective future.”

Luncheon Co-Chair Glen Tullman emphasized that education is a good investment for business leaders who want to run successful companies, and that “our future is tied up in our children and we have to make sure everyone in society is going to be able to contribute. Today, that starts first and foremost with education because it’s not possible to be successful if you don’t have the core elements of an education.”

Bezos encouraged the crowd that “the need for bold maneuvers and innovative ideas has never been more pressing.” Echoing that, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised the Ounce for efforts to make Chicago a leader in early learning.

“I want to thank the Ounce of Prevention [Fund] for always raising the bar, always raising our conscience and always making sure that we consistently raise our commitment to making sure that every child in the City of Chicago gets a world class education starting at the most important years,” said the mayor.

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