Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor elected to board of Thrive by Five Washington

Taylor's expertise in early childhood development considered key asset

At its April 6 meeting, the Thrive by Five Washington Board of Directors elected Whitworth University President Beck A. Taylor to its board. Taylor, who has conducted extensive research in early childhood development and is deeply committed to ensuring school readiness among the state's children, will be a key member of Thrive by Five Washington, the state's nonprofit public-private partnership for early learning.

Launched in 2006 by Washington state businesses and foundations, Thrive by Five Washington mobilizes the statewide commitment to early learning to help give all children the best start possible in school and in life.

President Taylor joins a committed board of state, community, business and philanthropic leaders, many of whom helped create Thrive by Five Washington. The board is currently co-chaired by Gov. Christine Gregoire and Jackie Bezos, of the Bezos Family Foundation.

"I am honored to join the Thrive board," Taylor says. "In my role as Whitworth's president, I am eager to become involved in external organizations that align with my own personal and scholarly interests and that can elevate Whitworth's role in important policy discussions. For the past decade, I have conducted research at the intersection of economics and child developmental psychology, examining the varied impacts of poverty on school readiness. I am keenly interested in serving an organization whose mission is to ensure that all children in Washington state are ready to succeed in school, and to represent Whitworth in that process."

Taylor's primary scholarly background is in economics, and he has combined that expertise with considerable research in the social sciences. In particular, he has published articles on public health and child developmental psychology, examining issues such as how higher quality early childcare promotes low-income children's math and reading achievement. His research on early childhood development has been mentioned by organizations such as the National Center for Children and Poverty at Columbia University and the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.

"Beck Taylor's higher education perspective is vitally important to our work," says Nina Auerbach, president and CEO of Thrive by Five Washington. "Over the past few years, we have made strong connections between early learning and K-12, and we want to build those connections with higher education as well. We need to ensure that we're not only sending students into the higher education system prepared to succeed but also giving future childcare providers and teachers the best training possible."

The announcement of Taylor's board appointment comes a few days in advance of the National Week of the Young Child, April 10-16, as well an event in Spokane Valley April 9 that will kick off Thrive by Five Washington's statewide awareness campaign, "Love. Talk. Play." The campaign aims to help parents of children ages 3 and younger better understand why the first years of life are important and how they can support their children most effectively. It focuses on three key things all parents can and need to be doing with their children: loving, talking and playing. Parent awareness and outreach are priorities for the state's Early Learning Plan, released last fall.

The campaign kicks off with "Tiny Tot Rock…and More" on Saturday, April 9, from 10 a.m. to noon at CenterPlace, in Spokane Valley. The event will include a free 45-minute concert with kid band The Not-Its!, followed by a series of activities sponsored by local organizations, such as the Spokane County Library District and St. Anne's Children & Family Center, to teach parents and their children how to add more love, talk and play into their daily routines. The event is one of several "Our Kids: Our Business" events happening in the Spokane area during the month of April.

The campaign is sponsored by Thrive by Five Washington, the Washington State Department of Early Learning and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Spokane Valley event is supported by the Inland Northwest Early Learning Alliance. To learn more about the campaign, visit http://www.lovetalkplay.org/.

In addition to leading the Love, Talk, Play campaign, Thrive by Five Washington works closely with the state’s Department of Early Learning and Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to lead the creation of a statewide early learning system that supports children from birth to third grade. It also oversees the state's new Home Visiting Account, which was created by the state Legislature in 2010 to match public and private dollars and to fund proven and promising home visiting programs throughout the state.

The Thrive by Five Washington Board of Directors currently has 25 members, including four legislators who represent both parties and the House and Senate, and three ex-officio members: the governor, the state superintendent of public instruction and the director of the state Department of Early Learning. Members serve three-year terms.

For more information about Thrive by Five Washington, visit http://www.thrivebyfivewa.org/.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts:

Molly O'Connor, director of communications, Thrive by Five Washington, (206) 621-5562 or molly@thrivebyfivewa.org.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.