Better Makers: Education Leaders Join the Ounce in Supporting the Importance of Early Learning

The 2019 Ounce Annual Luncheon raised a record-breaking $1.3 million for its early childhood education programing, including its South Side school and family center, Educare Chicago. (Photo by Liz Morris.)

Before we are even born, our brain is already developing; preparing for the pivotal, first few years of life that quite literally shape our future.

Ninety percent of a child’s brain is already fully developed by the early age of 5. A vital component in a child’s development is the incorporation of serve and return interaction; the responsive relationships between children and their parents, caregivers, and community. Lack of these interactions and relationships can be detrimental to the brain’s architecture, causing learning and behavioral challenges.

Today, there are nearly 5 million children under age 5 living in poverty in the United States. Most of these kids don’t have access to high-quality education.

For the past 37 years, the Ounce of Prevention Fund (the Ounce) has committed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing equal access to educational opportunities to all children.

The investment in early childhood development yields one of the greatest rates of economic return. Every $1 spent on early childhood education is said to save society $7 in future remedial costs.

“An ounce of prevention beats a pound of intervention,” said playwright and actor Anna Deavere Smith at the Ounce Annual Luncheon, depicting the urgency of the Ounce’s work. Held April 10 at the Hilton Chicago, 850 Chicago area leaders gathered to support the organization’s mission in providing education and care to at-risk children from birth to age 5.

Leading fundraising efforts, luncheon chair Tom Gimbel inspired attendees to increase their giving for our young ones. “It’s up to us to make sure everyone, every child has those same opportunities to reach their full potential.” Within the first hour, the ballroom raised $75,000. By the end, a collective $1.3 million was raised for the Ounce’s early childhood education programs.

Through the sneak peak of a new documentary featuring Educare Chicago, the Ounce’s network of schools, guests saw first-hand the extraordinary impact of educating our youth.“Tomorrow’s Hope” follows three of the school’s first graduates, one of which was a keynote speaker, 19-year-old Jamal Poindexter.

Ounce Board Chair Curt Bailey and Ounce President Diana Rauner joined in addressing the audience of early childhood supporters and leaders. “Having the opportunity to learn, live safely, and form healthy relationships in supportive homes and in communities should be an ordinary part of every child’s life,” Rauner said. “The reality, however, is that for families living with persistent poverty, extraordinary efforts are required to make the ordinary possible.”

The 2019 luncheon sponsors included BMO Harris Bank, Nancy and Steve Crown, The Crown Family, Tom Gimbel, LaSalle Network, Diana and Bruce Rauner, Related Midwest, Valor Equity Partners, and more.

early learning: Tom Gimbel, early childhood education

Tom Gimbel, the Ounce luncheon chair and founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, discusses the current state of childhood education and the existing needs for young children and families living in poverty at the 2019 luncheon. (Photo by Brissa del Mar.)

early learning: early childhood education, Tom Gimbel, Diana Rauner, Anna Deavere Smith, Curt Bailey

Tom Gimbel, the Ounce luncheon chair and founder and CEO of LaSalle Network; Diana Rauner, the Ounce president; Anna Deavere Smith, activist, playright, and actor; and Curt Bailey, the Ounce board chair and president of Related Midwest. (Photo by Brissa del Mar.)

early learning: early childhood education, Diana Rauner

Diana Rauner, the Ounce president, thanks the more than 850 guests for attending and supporting the Ounce and the country’s youngest learners. (Photo by Brissa del Mar.)

early learning: early childhood education, Diana Rauner, Tom Gimbel, Jamal Poindexter, Educare Chicago

Tom Gimbel, the Ounce luncheon chair and founder and CEO of LaSalle Network; Jamal Poindexter, Educare Chicago graduate and SAE Institute student; and Diana Rauner, the Ounce president. (Photo by Brissa del Mar.)

early learning: early childhood education, Curt Bailey, Ounce of Prevention Fund

Curt Bailey, the Ounce board chair and president of Related Midwest, welcomes attendees to the Ounce Annual Luncheon on April 10 at the Hilton Chicago. (Photo by Brissa del Mar.)

early learning: early childhood education, Educare Chicago, Ounce of Prevention Fund

Impact: Educare Chicago, founded by the Ounce in 2000, is a state-of-the-art school and family center on Chicago’s South Side that serves low-income infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in the area. (Photo by Liz Morris.)

 

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Emily Stone is Associate Editor at Make It Better. She earned a degree in journalism from Elon University in North Carolina. Along with writing, Stone has a passion for digital storytelling and photography. Her work is published in Chicago Athlete Magazine. Stone is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Stone is a fluent Spanish speaker who in her free time loves a good dance class.

 

 

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