Early Experiences Matter

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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

Purpose of the Fellowship Program

Program Description

ZERO TO THREE's Leaders for the 21st Century is the nation’s oldest national fellowship program for infant-family professionals and policymakers and has over 260 alumni around the country. The program works to meet the nation’s growing need for dynamic leaders and a strong, multi-disciplinary network of professionals and policymakers who are dedicated to improving outcomes for infants, toddlers, and their families.  

The Fellowship’s overall goal is to strengthen the ability of committed, talented professionals and policymakers to implement policies and practices that promote the healthy development of babies and families. Throughout the Fellowship, participants experience new ways of thinking and open themselves to profoundly new ways of viewing the world and their work. The Fellowship program offers Fellows career-expanding opportunities by enhancing their knowledge of the science of early child development, their leadership skills, and their professional networks. 


Leaders for the 21st Century receives funding from the Irving Harris Foundation. 

Program Activities

The Project: Each participant makes a contribution to the early childhood field by completing an individual project during his or her tenures as a Fellow. The project is part of his or her present work or moves the Fellow in a new direction.

Gatherings: During the Fellowship program, Fellows meet 4 times over 2 years for 3 to 5 days at each meeting.

  • The Spring Meeting (usually in late April or early May in Washington, DC) is held in conjunction with ZERO TO THREE’s annual Scientific Meeting which brings together the ZERO TO THREE Board of Directors, staff, and graduates of the Fellowship Program. The Spring Meeting combines programming for Fellows with a day-long update on recent advances in science related to infants, toddlers, and their families. 
  • The Leaders’ Retreat (usually in August or September) features 4 days of programming just for the Fellows. 


Leadership Education: Through training in leadership skills, including media management and policy advocacy, the Fellowship program seeks to enhance each Fellow’s ability to address difficult challenges that arise in workplaces, in their professions and the infant-family field, and in organizations.

Writing Opportunities: Members of each class of Fellows may elect to work collaboratively to produce a special issue of the journal, Zero To Three.

Program Benefits

ZERO TO THREE makes a significant investment in each Fellow by providing:

  • Funding to cover expenses associated with traveling to and attending the meetings.
  • Training sessions in message development and media relations, policy and advocacy skills, and leadership skills. 
  • Introductions to graduate Fellows and/or members of the Board of Directors and/or ZERO TO THREE staff who agree to serve as intellectual resources for Fellows’ projects. 
  • Time set aside to discuss the projects at the Scientific Meeting and the Leaders’ Retreat. 
  • A 2-year subscription to the journal, Zero To Three.

Program Commitments

ZERO TO THREE asks each Fellow to commit to:

  • Attend all 4 meetings over the fellowship period
  • Complete her/his project and present it 
  • Sign on to ZERO TO THREE Policy Center’s network
  • Complete progress reports and program evaluations
  • Develop and maintain a relationship after the Fellowship program with ZERO TO THREE

Conditions of Participation: ZERO TO THREE retains the right to terminate a Fellow’s participation in the Fellowship if the Fellow elects not to meet the commitments stated above.

Alumni Activities

Alumni of the Fellowship program and ZERO TO THREE remain closely connected after the formal Fellowship period concludes. For example, alumni help select each succeeding cohort of Fellows, they present at ZERO TO THREE conferences, they publish in the journal, and they help select speakers for conferences. Alumni may attend Scientific Meetings each year. ZERO TO THREE has taken steps to expand activities conducted with alumni. 



Fellowship Class of 2009-2010
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ZERO TO THREE Fellowship Program Class of 2014-16
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Fellowship Class of 2012
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Graduate Fellows
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1255 23rd Street, NW, Suite 350, Washington, DC 20037 | Phone: (202) 638-1144 | Fax: (202) 638-0851

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