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BBA 101 MOOC Session 3: The influence of poverty on early childhood education and gaps

In this third BBA MOOC session, we delve into the critical importance of children’s earliest months and years of life in laying the foundations for future learning, and the disparities in opportunity that emerge between lower-income and higher-income babies and young children. From more stressful conditions among low-income pregnant women to their inability to take time off from work to bond with new babies and insufficient resources to provide the stimulation and nurturing – both at home and in out-of-home care – these opportunity gaps lead to substantial achievement gaps at kindergarten entry.

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Blog Post

A Broader, Bolder Approach to Early Childhood Education

This BBA blog highlights a comprehensive approach to early childhood education in the context of the national election, which in general is not paying much attention to public education issues.

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Case Study

Bright Futures (Pea Ridge, AR)

In 2013, Pea Ridge superintendent Rick Neal, who had been the Pea Ridge high school principal from 2005 to 2012, had no way of addressing students needs through school-based strategies alone, and no mechanism for leveraging the resources of the community to meet those needs. Neal saw the potential to address the unmet needs of students and their families through Bright Futures, an organization that uses community-building to tackle poverty-related impediments to learning and student success.

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Key Resources

BBA Policy Statement (full version)

BBA Policy Statement (bullet-point version)

BBA Relaunch Press Release

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Case Studies

Northside Achievement Zone (North Minneapolis, MN)

Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) was formed in 2010 as an outgrowth of the PEACE Foundation, an organization committed to ending intergenerational poverty in North Minneapolis. After winning a federal Promise Neighborhood implementation grant in 2012, NAZ was able to significantly expand both its services and its scope, partnering with many local non-profits and increasing its prior goal of serving approximately 150 students to 2500 by the end of 2016. Inspired by the Harlem Children's Zone, the program's three main goals are: engaging parents to strengthen their ability to support their children's achievement, improving schools and the education experience through a continuum of services, and providing whole family wrap-around support to stabilize families and households and remove barriers to learning.

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BBA Policy Areas

Out-of-School Experiences

Establishing an even educational playing field so that all children enter kindergarten prepared to learn and thrive requires supports for children, their parents, and their caregivers from birth. And ensuring equal opportunities to learn requires support for children’s physical and mental health. A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education advances enriching experiences with nurturing, knowledgeable adults throughout the day and all year, in order to promote children’s strong cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral development.


Early Childhood Education

Afterschool and Summer Activities

Physical and Mental Health


In-School Experiences

Schools and educators serving students with higher needs need the resources to do so effectively. A Broader, Bolder Approach to Education advances policies that establish strong standards and curriculum in all schools and ensure sufficient funding for high-needs schools to reach them. BBA promotes supports-based accountability systems focused on improving instruction and strategies to desegregate schools and deconcentrate poverty within them, so that educators and students have a strong context in which to teach and learn.


Equitable Funding

Holistic, Supports-Based Accountability Systems

Teacher and Principal Quality

Accountability for Charter Schools

School-Community Connections

Effective, sustainable school improvement efforts merge research-based evidence of effective ways to mitigate the impacts of poverty with community input regarding the district’s unique assets and needs. A Broader, Bolder Approach highlights the need for key community voices – including educators, parents, students, and faith and business leaders – to be at the center of developing and implementing education reforms.


Addressing Race, Segregation, and Concentrated Poverty

Using Community Input to Inform School Improvement

BBA's Mission

The impacts of poverty on students’ ability to learn effectively – from lack of readiness for kindergarten to health-related impediments to focusing in class and disproportionate placement in segregated and under-resourced schools – are increasingly understood. The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education advances a comprehensive, research-based policy agenda to mitigate those impacts and, thus, even the education playing field so that all US children have a true opportunity to thrive in school and life. Learn more about BBA

Featured Resources
Mission Statement
Executive Summary
Original BBA Mission Statement

BBA's Leadership

David Kirp

Featured Advisory Board Member
David L. Kirp

David L. Kirp is a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, a member of the National Academy of Education, a contributing writer to the New York Times Sunday Review and a senior scholar at the Learning Policy Institute. In his seventeen books and hundreds of articles, he has mainly focused on … Continued



Helen Ladd
Susan B. King Professor of Public Policy, Duke University


Pedro Noguera
Distinguished Professor of Education and Director, Center for the Study of School Transformation, UCLA

Paul Reville (medium)

Paul Reville
Francis Keppel Professor of Practice of Educational Policy and Administration and founding director, Education Redesign Lab


Joshua Starr
CEO Phi Delta Kappa International

National Coordinator

elaine-weiss-portrait 12_15

Elaine Weiss
National Coordinator

Elaine Weiss is the National Coordinator for the Broader Bolder Approach to Education, where she works with four co-chairs, a high-level Advisory Board, and multiple coalition partners to promote a comprehensive, evidence-based set of policies to allow all children to thrive in school and life.  Major publications for BBA include case studies of diverse communities across the … Continued