Northeast Indiana Regional Early Learning Initiatives Join Forces

May 12th, 2022

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership (Regional Partnership) announced today that its Early Learning Committee will join with the newly formed Northeast Indiana Early Childhood Coalition effective immediately. Led by regional business leaders and educators, including the Early Childhood Alliance, the committee, formed in 2017, helped to advocate and build awareness for the importance of quality early education in the region. The new coalition will include representatives from 11 counties around Northeast Indiana.

"We are thrilled to announce this new alignment where the hard work of our committee will be leveraged in a new, broader coalition to boost opportunities for our youngest learners and their families,” said Ryan Twiss, vice president of Regional Initiatives with the Regional Partnership. “We know that access to quality childcare remains a significant barrier to workforce participation. Our goal is to help alleviate this challenge and create opportunities for economic empowerment and growth in Northeast Indiana.”

With the support of a community impact investment from Ambassador Enterprises, the Northeast Indiana Regional Early Childhood Coalition will implement the “Strategic Doing” model to help engage the multi-county coalitions. Ambassador Enterprises is also leading the effort to convene county coalition leaders who will support the creation, growth and capacity-building for early childhood care and quality early education in their communities.

“By investing in this compelling initiative to build a regional infrastructure for strategic and cross-sector support for Early Childhood Development and Care, Ambassador Enterprises seeks to catalyze economic vitality,” said Dr. Sherry Grate, vice president of community impact investing with Ambassador Enterprises. “Connecting employers, providers, funders, local officials, and economic development is the key to success. This merger represents the next phase of regional economic development support for early learning and capacity building for overall community impact.”

Since the launch of the Regional Partnership’s Early Learning Committee in 2017, the team secured several key accomplishments which include:

  • Partnering with the Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana and United Way of Allen County to create awareness and encourage policy-making that led to the development of On My Way Pre-K, the State of Indiana’s first public investment in Early Learning.
  • Organizing and hosting the 2019 annual Early Learning Indiana Summit in Fort Wayne, which attracted more than 300 educators, caregivers and other participants including over 170  business leaders.
  • Hosting a series of employer roundtables to identify key challenges facing employers and employees when there is a lack of quality childcare.

Local business leader Corinna Ladd was a member of the inaugural committee. She not only helped raise awareness amongst her business peers, but also led continued support from the PNC Foundation to advance high-quality early education in the region. Since 2004, PNC has committed over $1 million to support young learners in Indiana, including funding and advocacy for On My Way Pre-K program.

“It is an exciting time to see how the foundational platform and momentum of our committee will now be leveraged with this new regional coalition,” said Corinna Ladd, PNC regional president for northern Indiana and former chair of the Regional Partnership’s Early Learning Committee. “The coalition’s strategy, process, and leadership are exactly what Northeast Indiana needs to take the next step in solving this critical issue affecting children, parents, and employers.”

Fort Wayne-based Gensyn Design co-founders Jennifer Hunter and Jason Barnes will help facilitate the strategic conversations. They will be joined by Allie Sutherland, a regional champion for early childhood development, who will provide advisory support. 

"We are thrilled that this new alignment will connect providers, employers, residents and public officials so they can design and deploy local solutions to community challenges that exist for early childhood development and childcare. We are thankful to Ambassador Enterprises, Gensyn Design and Allie for their strategic leadership,” added Twiss.

In addition to integrating the two initiatives, the Regional Partnership committed $44,000 to seed an innovation fund. Raised initially to support activities of the Regional Partnership’s Early Learning Committee, the funds will seed pathfinder projects identified by the new Regional Coalition to expand the growth and influence of county coalitions.

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