Business leaders in Maine are on a mission to improve the quality of early care and education and increase access for all Maine families.
The Maine Early Learning Investment Group (MELIG), which was created in January 2012, has pledged to help raise millions of dollars in private funds to achieve this aim. The members of MELIG represent a diverse cross-section of businesses in Maine.
The long-term goals are to improve the quality of Maine’s workforce and decrease the costs of doing business in the state by lessening future health care, welfare, and other social costs. As part of its ongoing fundraising campaign, MELIG focuses on raising public awareness about the connection between investment in early childhood and economic prosperity. MELIG created a donor-advised fund and encouraged private investments in it. Distributions from the fund target proven strategies to strengthen parenting skills, increase the quality of early care and education, and assist families with accessing that quality care and education for their young children.
MELIG has stated it will look to state agencies and nonprofits to help determine where its efforts can have the most impact. The Maine Community Foundation (MCE) hosts the donor advised fund and the Maine Development Foundation (MDF) serves as fiscal agent. In addition, the MCF and MDF receive, hold, invest, and administer the funds MELIG collects.
One of MELIG’s initiatives is Elevate Maine, which is a partnership with Educare Central Maine (ECM). Over the next five years its objectives are to elevate early education to the highest in standards and practice, to elevate student achievement for optimal success in school and beyond, and to elevate the quality of Maine’s workforce. The greater Skowhegan area and Somerset county have been selected as Elevate Maine’s premiere location. The greater Skowhegan area has the highest number of child risk factors in the state (poverty, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and lack of high quality learning experiences). Elevate Maine has identified 6 core components – 2 of which will be implemented statewide, and 4 of which will be initially limited to designated areas.
- Campaign to raise public awareness: Elevate Maine will increase public knowledge about the important relationship between high quality early learning and sustained educational and lifelong success.
- Early educator training and technical assistance: Elevate Maine will assist early childhood educators to increase the quality of their programs through training and technical assistance.
Investments initially limited to designated areas:
- Parent education and mentoring: Through parent education, mentoring and visitation, Elevate Maine will increase parents’ knowledge of child developmental needs and their use of positive, effective parenting skills.
- Early educator coaching and mentoring: Elevate Maine will provide coaching and mentoring to early childhood educators to assist them with enhancing their formal education and/or credentials and provide grants to help programs improve quality.
- Professional development scholarships and quality improvement grants: Elevate Maine will provide scholarships to early educators to assist them with enhancing their formal education and/or credentials and provide grants to help programs improve quality.
- High quality early education scholarships for at-risk children: Elevate Maine will provide early education scholarships to at-risk children from low-income families so they can attend high quality early care and education programs.
Learn more about MELIG by watching this video describing its mission and efforts.