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news – april 2010

Imagine West Virginia Partners with the Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation to Advance the Dialogue on Early Child Development Investments

Speaker Geoffrey Canada delivers his address at Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation’s Inaugural Speakers Luncheon The Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation (DRWV) hosted its Inaugural Speakers Luncheon on April 19, 2010 with featured speakers U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller and Geoffrey Canada, a nationally recognized advocate for education reform. The event was titled “Investing in Early Childhood Development: Planting the Seeds for our Economic Future”. More than 300 of the state’s community and business leaders, educators and legislators were in attendance.

Imagine West Virginia partnered with DRWV and The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to sponsor the event, and many board members, including chairman Joe Lopez, were present to support the day’s activities.

Geoffrey Canada is President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, which the New York Times magazine called “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.” Mr. Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone launched the Harlem Children's Zone Project, which targets a specific geographic area in Central Harlem with a comprehensive range of services including educational, social and medical services. The Zone Project today covers 100 blocks and aims to serve more than 10,000 children.

Speaker in front of crowdMr. Canada spoke about the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone and how inner-cities and rural Appalachia share many of the same challenges with regard to early childhood development, and how initiatives that he has implemented in Harlem can be successfully adapted in West Virginia.

First Lady Gayle Manchin provided remarks regarding the importance of early child development and initiatives at the state and federal levels. Senator Rockefeller serves as the honorary chair of DRWV and during his remarks said, “We’re here because there is a real hunger out there for a serious investment in our future, in our people and their potential – and I firmly believe this can be done through investing in our children and their education. We have an obligation to bring families and children front and center, once again. And we are doing that – with great urgency. Young children participating in quality early education programs with the right care in the right environment are more likely to stay in school, go to college, and become successful, independent adults. And, in West Virginia, every dollar invested in early childhood education has a return of approximately five times its value. This is an enormously meaningful investment in our communities and our economy. But more than that – it’s the right thing to do for all children.”

Imagine West Virginia couldn’t agree more, and we continue to seek out appropriate opportunities to advance our 2009 policy campaign – “Right & Smart, Advancing Early Child Development in West Virginia

For more information about the work of the Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation, click here.

To learn more about the incredible work and success of the Harlem Children’s Zone, click here.

View photos from the event: