A Comprehensive Solution
As seen in other industries, a business model called “shared services” brings businesses together to obtain lower costs from economies of scale in business functions like payroll, benefits management, banking, janitorial, food services, insurance and purchasing. In order to survive in a fragile industry and an uncertain economy, early care and education organizations must begin to work together in a more collaborative way. By participating with a sponsoring organization, early care and education businesses become better equipped to offer affordable, high-quality ECE.
A Strategic Approach
Because there is no standardized or replicable approach for shared services within the early care and education industry, David and Laura Merage Foundation is partnering with other organizations to test and refine a model, called an Early Learning Ventures Alliance™ (ELV Alliance). For the first time, many small early care and education businesses in Colorado will have the opportunity to attain fiscal stability and incorporate superior business operations, resulting in the delivery of high-quality services. They will have support to attain higher quality levels, make them competitive with larger centers and focus on sustainable business results.
Central to reaching our objectives is to ensure that organizations who want to develop an ELV Alliance are properly equipped to meet the needs of the joining member businesses. The ideal organization has the capacity to reach a large number of children and providers of a socioeconomically diverse population. With a proven track record of entrepreneurial leadership and fiscal stability, the organizations must have funding partners for start-up capital, and the ability to manage blended funding streams. Additionally, sponsoring organizations are being selected on the basis of a strong, positive reputation with the local early care and education community and a firm commitment to excellence. To date, the following services have been identified as key criteria for a successful Early Learning Alliance sponsoring organization:
- Professional fiscal and administrative management services
- Innovative approach to business challenges
- Willingness and ability to provide comprehensive support services for the children and families
- Parent education programs and an engaged parenting support network
- Quality assurance and professional curriculum programs
- Education and training for Alliance members
- Networking opportunities and support systems for providers
- Marketing, enrollment and referral programs
Importance of ECE: Pay Now or Pay Later
Early Learning Ventures Alliances (ELV Alliances) offer a market-oriented solution that incorporates parent involvement, and has measurable impact. By participating in an ELV Alliance, early care and education businesses become stronger, more accountable, financially sound and efficient, and better equipped to offer affordable high-quality services for children and their families.
Science tells us ensuring that all children ages birth to five have access to high-quality early care and education will lead to individual and societal dividends of incalculable measure. The facts cannot be ignored, a solution cannot be delayed. Every day the window of opportunity closes for our children — future doctors, presidents, and teachers are depending on you to be their voice. It is time for the ECE industry to act upon a substantial and growing body of research and build strong, community-based networks that will truly improve learning and behavior; academic achievement, economic productivity, and successful parenting of the next generation.
Return on Investment
Leverage is a significant component to the Early Learning Ventures initiative’s strategies; leveraging existing human capital to provide technical assistance and reduce overhead costs; leveraging intellectual capital to effect systems change; and leveraging financial capital to a sector previously ignored. The David and Laura Merage Foundation has already made a substantial financial commitment to provide the seed funding for developing the Alliance model and fostering information technology and business tool innovations. This is a unique opportunity for philanthropic investors to have an impact on early childhood education, workforce development, and the long-term economic health of the community.
Click here to view the Early Learning Ventures Executive Summary.