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The First Five Years Fund has come out with a great two-minute video that makes the case for continued investment in early learning. Click here to view it.

About the video, the Fund's Executive Director Cornelia Grumman says: "In under two minutes, it grabs your attention and states our case. I want this to go viral. I want your mom in Cleveland and your college roommate in Richmond and your mechanic in Spokane to see it. I think they’ll be inspired."

LANSING - Six million dollars in funding to Michigan's Great Start Collaboratives should be cut from the state School Aid Fund, according to a draft proposal by Sen. Howard Walker, chairman of the fund's appropriations subcommittee. (Share your thoughts on this story at the Michigan Sandbox Party.)

YPSILANTI – Ensuring educational success for all Michigan children requires a change in attitude toward education from do-nothing to can-do, Lt. Gov. Calley said Monday. (See related story at the Michigan Sandbox Party website.)

Motivational speaker and author Donna M. Beegle lived in poverty for 28 years before someone offered to help her navigate out of “the war zone of poverty.”

Born to migrant farmers and into generational poverty – her grandparents picked cotton – she grew up believing there was nothing special about her, nothing that would launch her life into a different direction.

EAST LANSING - Society needs to "close the gap between what we know and what we do" when it comes to ensuring children are ready to thrive once they reach the public school system, according to early childhood expert Harriet Meyer.

LANSING - The Michigan Sandbox Party - a nonpartisan movement for the state's youngest children and their parents -relaunched its website today with a new look and new material.

EAST LANSING – Two advocates were selected as winners of this year’s “Great Start Fierce Heart" awards, given annually by the Early Childhood Investment Corporation in recognition of tireless effort on behalf of infants, toddler and preschoolers locally and statewide.

KENT COUNTY -- For long-time pediatrician Dr. Thomas H. Peterson, seeing the published results of his early childhood health disparities study closed the loop on a body of work that began in 2001.

Long before she knew about any of the studies on early childhood or read the research on brain development, Harriet Meyer recalled the moment she came to believe that improving opportunities for low-income children during the earliest years is the best way to strengthen the economy.

LANSING - Mark your calendar, tune up the car and get ready to come to Lansing once again to flex your grassroots muscle – the planning for Star Power 2011 is underway. Click here for a powerful new video about last year's event and its impact. To register, click here.

ANN ARBOR -- Andrew Hashikawa, a University of Michigan emergency room doc specializing in pediatrics, had often been perplexed by the number of parents who brought their preschool children with symptoms of the common cold to the emergency department in the middle of the night.

John Austin, president of the Michigan Board of Education recently authored a commentary in the Detroit Free Press that mentioned maintaining early childhood investments as one of the ways to make Michigan a better place to live and do business.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In an action that could have widespread implications for young children, the U.S. House Saturday (Feb. 23) passed a budget measure (H.R. 1) that would cut $39 million from the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and $1 billion from Head Start.

IRON MOUNTAIN - Barb Reisner, Project Coordinator of the Dickinson-Iron Great Start Collaborative, hopes that everybody in the neighboring counties will soon be singing the praises of Great Start. And to help everybody sing along, the collaborative has created a music jingle that appears on its website and is playing on local radio.

LANSING - Investments in young children are investments in the state's economic well-being, according to Judy Samelson, chief executive officer of Michigan's Early Childhood Investment Corporation. In a commentary in the Feb. 20 Lansing State Journal, Samelson said the recent Kids Count in Michigan Data Book, which indicated a fourth of the state's children between birth and age live in poverty, is a "call to action" for the new governor and state lawmakers.

LANSING - Early childhood programs largely were left untouched in Gov. Rick Snyder's FY 2012 executive budget and FY 2013 projected budget, according to a first look at the plan. Funding for the Great Start Collaboratives, Great Parent Great Start, the Great Start Readiness Program and the Early Childhood Investment Corporation was left at FY 2011 levels in the governor's two-year plan.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Obama's budget, released Monday, includes roughly $2.5 billion in early learning and care investments, including $350 million for the Early Learning Challenge Fund, $866 million for Head Start and Early Head Start, a $1.3 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant and $350 million for home visiting grants to states.

KALAMAZOO -- If you want to learn why early childhood programs are economic development, take a stroll through Timothy J. Bartik’s newest book, Investing in Kids: Early Childhood Programs and Local Economic Development. And don’t worry, you don’t need a PhD to understand what this PhD has to say about the very tangible links between investing in early childhood and the benefits to a local community, a state and our nation.

LANSING - The state's largest newspapers - the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press - each called on Gov. Rick Snyder this week to focus more on education- including birth to 5 programs - as a way to lift children out of poverty.

LANSING – Poverty among children has worsened dramatically in Michigan since 2000, according to a new report, with more than a quarter of very young children (0-5) and a fifth of all children now living below the poverty line. The Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2010: The Education Connection – released today by the Michigan League for Human Services – details a startling rise in childhood poverty between 2000 and 2009.