2018 Partner Summit


2018 Partner Summit
November 28-30
Denver, Colorado

Each year, Alliance for Early Success brings together more than 200 state, national, and funding partners to share best practices to improve state policies for children, birth through age eight. For the latest on this year’s convening, check out the agenda below, complete with session descriptions, speakers and panelists, and advance reading materials and background information for the featured topics! 

Want to know who’s coming to the Partner Summit? Check out the participant list.

Program Agenda


Wednesday, November 28
4-6 pm Registration - River Foyer

Welcome Reception - Elevate/Lobby Library
Kick off the Partner Summit with the best and brightest in early childhood policy and advocacy!

3:30pm– 5:30pm

Site Visit Opportunity: Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being – Meet in the hotel lobby at 3:30 
dahlia campus

Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being is a 4-acre innovative campus created by a strong partnership between the Mental Health Center of Denver and the Park Hill community. During the development process, Park Hill residents shared their ideas about well-being, health, education, access to healthy food, access to dental care and mental health services. Building on the strengths of the community and informed by natural community leaders, the Dahlia Campus offers a comprehensive array of services including early childhood education, access to naturally grown produce and protein; and a variety of indoor and outdoor community spaces to support multigenerational populations as they gather, connect, play and grow. The campus features a teaching kitchen, community room, community gymnasium, early learning center, pediatric dental clinic and a wide array of mental health services. Check out the Press Kit for more background.


Pre-Summit Meetings
A number of pre-Summit gatherings will take place on November 28 before the reception. If you are part of the groups below, please note the meeting times and make your travel arrangements accordingly.

  • 8am – 3:30pm: Infant-Toddler Child Care Community of Practice – (Contact: Mimi Aledo-Sandoval) - Telluride A
  • 8:30am – 1pm: Alliance Partners on the ECE Profession – (Contact: Albert Wat) - Durango
  • 2pm – 5pm: Pre-K Advocacy Learning Community – (Contact: Albert Wat) - Vail
  • 3pm – 5pm: Engaging Philanthropy – (Contact: Lisa Klein) - Big Thompson
Thursday, November 29
7:30am Registration - River Foyer
  Breakfast - Colorado A/B Ballroom
  New Alliance Partner Breakfast - Big Thompson
  Breakfast for Foundation Partners (by invitation only)  - Cherry Creek
  TA Consultation Meetings  - Atrium Level:  Durango, Steamboat, Winter Park, Breckenridge

Opening Plenary: Saru Jayaraman, President of ROC United & ROC Action, Director of the Food Labor Research Center  - Colorado C/D Ballroom

Harnessing Grassroots Power for Young Children

We are living in a transformed, volatile political climate, which brings with it both challenges and opportunities. What does effective advocacy in states look like in this environment? How can we take advantage of the heightened activism, address inequities, and navigate intense polarization all at the same time? Saru Jayaraman will shed light on these and other questions based on her experience as the Co-Founder and President of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and her work with the One Fair Wage campaign. She will highlight how a grassroots strategy can create and sustain political power and discuss what advocates can do to harness this power to advance early childhood policies in states

10am  Networking Break  - Foyer
10:30am - 11:45am

Breakout Sessions

Alliance Partner Peeks:  Mental Health, MCOs, and Medicaid Telluride A - Telluride A

  • Elisabeth Burak, Georgetown Center on Children and Families
  • Elena Rivera, Children's Institute
  • Sheila Smith, National Center for Children in Poverty

Learn how our state and national partners are working through the health care system to improve outcomes for young children. The Georgetown Center on Children and Families is partnering with EverThrive Illinois on identifying meaningful measures for Medicaid quality improvement, including state contracts with managed care organizations (MCOs), that will bring attention to the early years and prevention. The National Center for Children and Poverty will share new Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health policy profiles, trends from a database of IECMH policies, and a recently updated 50-state Medicaid survey.


Continuing the Conversation with Saru: Harnessing Grassroots Power for Young Children - Big Thompson

  • Lauren Hogan, NAEYC (moderator)

Join us for a peer-to-peer discussion on how the themes and ideas from Ms. Jayaraman’s remarks apply to our work as early childhood advocates, especially as it relates to engaging the voices of early childhood educators and parents.

Gubernatorial and Legislative Elections: They’re Over . . . Now What? - Platte River

  • Vance Aloupis, Children’s Movement of Florida (invited)
  • Brittany Birken, Florida Children’s Council
  • Mike Carpenter, Tennesseans for Quality Early Education
  • Jason Sabo, Frontera Strategy

State advocates played important roles throughout this past year educating and informing candidates about early childhood programs and policies. Some informed and some have served or are serving on transition teams. This will be a rollicking discussion about what advocates are, can, and should be doing with veteran and new state leaders to help set the policy agenda for the coming year.


Home Visiting Advocacy Community of Practice (by invitation only) - Vail

12pm - 1:15pm Lunch - Colorado A/B Ballroom
  Alliance Investor Lunch (by invitation only) - Cherry Creek
  TA Consultation Meetings  - Atrium Level:  Durango, Steamboat, Winter Park, Breckenridge
1:30pm - 2:45pm

Breakout Sessions 

Alliance Partner Peeks: States’ Efforts to Improve K-3 Quality in Support of Student Success - Platte River

  • Bruce Atchison, Education Commission of the States
  • Laura Bornfreund, New America
  • Lori Connors-Tadros, CEELO
  • Louisa Diffey, Education Commission of the States
  • Rolf Grafwallner, Council of Chief State School Officers
  • Matt Weyer, NCSL

What can state leaders and advocates do to ensure that the K-3 years are of high quality for all students in the creation of a P-3 continuum?  Working with support from Education Commission of the States, New America, Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes, Council of Chief State School Officers, and the National Conference of State Legislators, numerous states have been undertaking intentional efforts to improve the quality of kindergarten through third grade. These national partners will share lessons learned from their efforts over the past three years, discuss considerations and promising policy levers for other states, and highlight recent resources for policymakers and advocates.  There will be time to have an interactive discussion regarding challenges and opportunities to advance K-3 quality in your state.


General Policy Issues

Promising K-3 Policies/Strategies

The 2020 Census and the Current Immigration Landscape: Lasting Implications for Young Children - Big Thompson

  • Angela Rothermel, Children Now
  • Becca Ullrich, CLASP

An estimated 9 million young children live in an immigrant family—more than 1 in 4 children under the age of 8. Harsh immigration policies at the federal and state levels are scaring eligible families away from programs and services that are vital for their health, development, and economic security and harming children’s wellbeing. At the same time, the administration’s recent decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census will exacerbate the historical undercounting of young children, threatening significant funding streams including Medicaid, SNAP, IDEA, S-CHIP, foster care, and Title I grants - not to mention political representation. In this session, participants will get an update on current immigration policies; learn about advocacy opportunities to engage state networks in opposition to harmful federal policies; and consider federal, state, and local advocacy strategies to ensure our youngest children are counted.


Comprehensive State Plans to Advance the ECE Workforce: Why? How? What? - Telluride A

  • Susan Sarver, Buffett Early Childhood Institute
  • Jennifer Stedron, Early Milestones Colorado

State advocates and policymakers are increasingly prioritizing the early care and education (ECE) workforce on their agendas. Come hear from two states – Colorado and Nebraska – that have decided to invest time and energy to develop a long-term, comprehensive plan for advancing the ECE profession. Representatives from Early Milestones and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute will share tips and lessons learned thus far about what it takes to get this kind of effort off the ground, what structures and processes they’re employing to develop and implement the plan, what role advocates have, how they’re engaging the broader early childhood community, what their plans are focused on, and what some early successes have been.


Translating Equity into Early Childhood Policy - Telluride B

  • Shannon Jones, Groundwork Ohio
  • Nakeshia Knight-Coyle, Oregon Department of Education
  • Aaliyah Samuel, National Governors Association
  • John Wilson, Kansas Action for Children

Race, Equity, and Inclusion is an Alliance principle that weaves throughout our work and the Partner Summit. In this session, we will turn a laser focus on how to incorporate this into advocacy and a policy agenda. There are no magic answers, but there is some fantastical work that will spur all participants into asking more questions and exploring more ideas.


2:45pm  Networking Break - Foyer
3:15pm - 4:30pm

Breakout Sessions

Alliance Partner Peeks:  Child Care and Development Block Grant - Big Thompson

  • Helen Blank, National Women’s Law Center
  • Lauren Hogan, National Association for the Education of Young Children

The $2.37 billion increase in base funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant provides states with newfound opportunities to increase access to quality child care. Two collaborative efforts, represented here by the National Women’s Law Center and National Association for Education of Young Children, are supporting and tracking states' actions, empowering and engaging state advocates, and gathering data to help sustain and grow federal and state investments. Hear how they are and will be working with states, and how you can help build the case.  


Planting Seeds and Cultivating Legislative Support - Platte River

  • Mindy Binderman, Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students
  • Julie Poppe, NCSL
  • Rosita Ramirez, NALEO

Major changes are coming to state legislative chambers in 2019. Leadership and committee membership changes, along with numerous newly elected legislators, will require increased efforts to educate legislators and identify champions.  Our partners at NCSL, NALEO Educational Fund, and the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students will share their strategies and lessons learned from their efforts to educate and increase interest and understanding in early childhood issues among legislators and legislative staff. Come learn how you can best leverage and support their leadership. 

Setting Coalitions Up for Success, Preparing Them for Evolution - Telluride A

  • Jon Gould, Children’s Alliance
  • Laura LaCroix-Dalluhn, LaCroix-Dalluhn Consulting
  • Jacy Montoya Price, Colorado Children’s Campaign
  • Christina Walker, Clayton Early Learning

Whether you’re developing a new coalition or trying to revamp an existing one, this session is for you. Advocates from Colorado, Minnesota, and Washington will share their experiences and lessons learned about creating, growing, and managing early childhood coalitions. Come learn from and with them and other states about coalitions’ structures and memberships, incorporating new issue or voices, engaging agency staff, focusing on equity, managing dissensions, and protocols for governance and decision-making.



4:45pm - 6:00pm

TA Consultation Meetings - Atrium Level:  Durango, Steamboat, Winter Park, Breckenridge


Sneak Peek: “No Small Matter” - Colorado C/D Ballroom
no small matter

Join us for a sneak preview of  No Small Matter, a new documentary about the power and potential impact of high-quality early childhood education.  A game-changing film about a galvanizing issue, No Small Matter offers an essential new tool for advocates and policymakers to help move the needle on a national scale.

6pm Reception - Pre Function Space
Friday, November 30
7:30am Breakfast  - Colorado A/B Ballroom
  TA Consultation Meetings - Platte River
8:30am - 9:45am

Breakout Sessions

Fireside Chat with Frank Luntz (Advanced RSVP Required) - Cherry Creek

Innovation in Early Childhood Practice and Policy - Big Thompson

  • Ashley Beckner, Omidyar Network
  • Steffanie Clothier, Gary Community Investment
  • Louise Stoney, Opportunities Exchange

Effective, sustainable, early learning opportunities will require increased investment as well as innovative thinking. New sources of capital are nurturing new leadership and investing in new business models, service delivery methods, technology platforms, teaching tools, outcome and assessment measures, and more.  These innovations have the potential to redefine what is possible when it comes to early childhood practice and policy. Hear what we are learning, reimagine what is possible, and brainstorm the policies that can support these efforts.


Leveraging States’ Workforce Investment Systems to Advance the ECE Profession - Telluride A

  • Cheryl Feldman, District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund
  • Fred Franko, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
  • Tom Morgan, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
  • Bret Walker, Denver Office of Economic Development

All states have resources and expertise to help industries that are critical to the economy build a supply of competent workforce. Should early care and education (ECE) be considered as one of these “industries”? How can the ECE profession benefit from states’ capacity (including funding) for workforce investment? What can advocates and policymakers interested in improving the ECE workforce do to tap into those resources? This session will shed light on these and other questions by highlighting two initiatives: An ECE apprenticeship program from Philadelphia that may be a model for Pennsylvania and Colorado’s effort to apply a “sector-based” approach to workforce development to the ECE profession.


9:55am - 11:05am

Closing Plenary: Dr. Frank Luntz, CEO, FIL, Inc. - Colorado C/D Ballroom
Words That Work 
Utilizing language research from the last 18 months, Dr. Frank Luntz will provide a lively, interactive presentation and specific recommendations for how to move public opinion in support of early childhood investment.  He will unveil the 21 words and phrases that will have the greatest impact on policymakers… and parents.



TA Consultation Meetings - Platte River

Partner Summit Adjourns - 12:00pm