IMPACT Brain Bags

IMPACT Brain Bags

Grant Year: 2016 | Focus Area: Family | Grant Amount: $108,200 | Grant Status: Completed

IMPACT Brain Bags

Studer Community Institute, Inc.

Studer Community Institute (SCI) was established in 2016 to improve the quality of life for the people in the Pensacola Metro Community by providing fact-based, thoughtful analysis of issues that need to be addressed to move the community forward. SCI believes objective benchmarks are vital to gauging progress and identifying areas that need improvement. In cooperation with the University of West Florida Office for Economic Development and Engagement, SCI created a dashboard of 16 metrics to provide an at-a-glance look at the area’s growth, educational attainment, economic prospects, safety and civic life. All metrics represent the Pensacola Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes all of Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties. With the help of the UWF Haas Center and other partners, SCI conducts research and creates tools and data visualizations to help citizens understand issues that affect them and their community.

Project Description

Every year, 1,000 of 3,000 5-year-olds in Escambia County show up for their first day of school one to two years behind their kindergarten classmates. A key reason is many parents do not understand the role of language in brain development. Studer Community Institute and Thirty Million Words will partner in developing a model for a citywide wraparound approach to impacting early learning from birth to kindergarten. IMPACT funds will be used to provide IMPACT Brain Bags to every parent of a newborn in Escambia County, as they leave the hospital, to help explain the importance of talking with their babies. The bags will contain print and multimedia tools to help parents nurture their children’s language development by using the guidelines of the successful Thirty Million Words Initiative and other programs currently in use elsewhere in the state. The bags will contain a “baby book” with developmental milestones for parents to look for at 12, 18, 24 months, etc., a picture book to read to their children, a lullaby CD, a letter from the superintendent of schools, a small toy for playtime, and other educational information. The project will also pay for the development of a curriculum and salary for a social worker to make home visits to the families with newborns in the neighborhoods surrounding the 11 elementary schools with the county’s worst kindergarten-readiness rates. In order for Thirty Million Words and the University of Chicago to partner with SCI, they require funding by an outside organization for the first year to demonstrate community-based support of the project.

Community Impact

There is not a program or service in the community that focuses only on the importance of early literacy and brain development through home visits. Research indicates that with literacy and home-visit-targeted interventions, parents and caregivers increase the number of words they say to a baby. Research also shows that the more words a child hears in the critical 0 to 3 years age range, the more strongly developed their brain will be, increasing that child’s chances for success in school. Children who are ready for kindergarten are more likely to be reading on grade level in third grade, making them more likely to graduate high school on time. Baptist, Sacred Heart and West Florida Hospitals have agreed to give the IMPACT Brain Bags to the 5,000 moms who leave the hospital with a newborn next year. Heathy Start, Early Steps, 90 Works and officials at WIC will make the bags available to their clients. Increasing the education level of our citizens helps create a talent pool possessing the skills businesses need, lowers crime rates and improves the quality of life for everyone in the community. The mission and vision of this project is to significantly improve the quality of life for everyone in the two-county Metro area.