Jackson, Mississippi—On April 17, 2023, Mississippi celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Early Learning Collaborative Act. 

From a fractured early education landscape before the passage of the historic bill to a strong and thriving pre-K program 10 years later, we celebrate the success of the Early Learning Collaborative Act, which has now served nearly 26,000 four-year-olds. The process was no small feat.

“What we accomplished—and continue to accomplish—with the Early Learning Collaborative Act makes all the hardship endured in those initial years worth it. The ability to positively change the lives of thousands of children and families is something I could have only dreamed about back then. The pre-K program does this, and that makes me so proud. I wake up every day grateful that we have come so far and hopeful for where we can go. Here’s to decades to come,” said Canter. 

To commemorate this occasion, Mississippi First releases Transforming Pre-K in Mississippi: The Story of the Early Learning Collaborative Act—a case study that details Mississippi First’s compelling journey to create the early learning collaboratives (ELCs).  Canter prioritized listening to those on the ground and collaborating with key legislative champions and advocates to make the case for a high-quality state-funded pre-K program in Mississippi.  The program Canter envisioned would focus on collaboration, create a unique 1:1 tax credit, and require collaboratives to meet the National Institute for Early Education Research’s (NIEER) quality benchmarks.

Today, early learning collaboratives are comprised of school districts, Head Starts, childcare centers, and/or private or parochial schools. These partners work together to create a community-wide plan to serve four-year-olds and ensure consistent quality regardless of provider. ELCs are funded through state and local matching funds and overseen by the Mississippi Department of Education.

All ELC classrooms offer teachers with specialized training in early childhood education, an effective curriculum, and a warm, welcoming environment for children. The Mississippi Department of Education supports each collaborative by providing professional development and coaching to ensure that every pre-K student gets the quality education they deserve.

Today, there are 36 early learning collaboratives across the state. 

Mississippi First is a non-partisan, nonprofit education policy and advocacy organization whose mission is to champion transformative policy solutions ensuring educational excellence for every Mississippi child. We are a leading voice for high-quality early education, high-quality public charter schools, and access to highly effective teachers and leaders.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Mississippi First
Brooke Williams
Director of Communications

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