Access to education is a basic human right and essential in ensuring that all children are able to meet their greatest potential. Early Childhood Education allows children to have equal footing when they begin their educational careers. In Sonoma County, only 39 percent of Latino three and four year olds attend preschool, compared with 65 percent of white three and four year olds, according to the Portrait of Sonoma.

A focus on early childhood is the most cost-effective way to ensure the healthy development of children in poverty and offer the greatest returns to society.

In 2014, Community Foundation Sonoma County launched a three-year Early Childhood Education Initiative focused on parent engagement in early literacy, called iRead. This initiative supports a countywide collective impact initiative goal: every child enters kindergarten ready to succeed.

Building an effective early childhood education system that prepares every child for a successful start in kindergarten cannot be accomplished by any single organization or sector alone. Community Foundation Sonoma County is fortunate to be launching our Early Childhood Education Initiative as part of a cross-sector partnership, called Cradle to Career, working on four critical systems that affect children’s success in school: the Family System, Community System, Early Childhood Education System, and the K-3 System.

In addition to the county initiative, other funders, such as Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, are actively supporting Early Childhood Education. (Learn more about our recently announced partnership with Wine Country Weekend.)

“More than 16,000 children in Sonoma County cannot read proficiently by third grade,” said Dan Goldfield, President of Sonoma County Vintners Foundation. Up until third grade, children learn to read – but after third grade, they read to learn, so children who can’t read well by the third grade often drop out of high school and cannot find sustainable employment. He continued, “Children who can read will succeed, and reading at grade level by third grade increases their chance of success. The funds raised through Sonoma Wine Country Weekend for this critical initiative are a true testament to the power of the generosity and camaraderie of the Sonoma County wine community. By working together to reach a common and crucial goal, we work to change the lives of children and in turn our entire community.”

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend’s Fund the Future Program focuses on advancing child literacy rates in Sonoma County; by 2018, Wine Country Weekend expects to raise the third grade literacy rate to 90%. This year’s fundraising auction raised over $1.9 million in contributions for programs doing this work.

Community Foundation Sonoma County is proud to work with donors, community leaders, and organizations to increase all children’s likelihood of success as they enter kindergarten. Learn more or partner with us in creating opportunity for our youngest community members at home, in school, and beyond.

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