Strong Start — From Vision to Action


A prior post introduced Strong Start, a new program of A Lighted Path. Strong Start seeks to address the critical issue of quality early childhood education in Houston’s lower-income communities through a partnership with Collaborative for Children. Collaborative for Children (CC) is a non-profit organization whose Centers of Excellence program works with 50 selected childcare centers in “childcare deserts” to enhance kindergarten readiness by relying on three strategies.

  • Develop viable businesses: If childcare centers are to succeed in positively enhancing early childhood development for low-income families, they must be well-managed and financially viable. To that end, a team of CC specialists supports childcare center directors and owners in developing essential business practices, such as recruiting, training, budgeting, performance management, and marketing. One of the tools used is an online business accelerator curriculum developed specifically for childcare center owners and directors by the Center for Nonprofits and Philanthropy at Texas A&M’s Bush School.
  • Provide mentoring: Trained CC mentors guide center directors and staff in the application of teaching and interaction methodologies to ensure that a minimum of 70% of children demonstrate growth toward kindergarten readiness.
  • Engage families: To maximize the benefits of early childhood education, it is essential for children to broadly apply knowledge, understanding, and skills. CC works with childcare center owners and directors to develop programs to ensure each child’s learning is supported and reinforced by caregivers at the centers and within the child’s family. Examples of family engagement include parent-teacher conferences, special services referrals/consultations, and family learning events.

Strong Start, a program of A Lighted Path, will support CC in this mission.

SJD’s Strong Start team has been actively engaged in exploring and gaining experience on how to best meet the needs outlined above through:

  • hosting two training events (see image above) and planning more in 2023, including a leadership training event for approximately 100 early childhood educators;
  • reviewing the business accelerator program content created by the Texas A&M Bush Business School as preparation to provide center owners with instruction in essential business practices;
  • working with CC to plan and host family dinner events at childcare centers in and around Houston; and
  • establishing mentoring relationships with owners and directors of childcare centers in the Centers of Excellence program.

Strong Start needs your help to shine the light of the church in our city. If you are interested in helping young children achieve success in their education and associated life outcomes, do not miss this opportunity to make a difference. Volunteers are needed now to continue to contribute in the following ways:

  1. Provide business management training for childcare center owners and directors,
  2. Mentor center owners and directors in leadership and management,
  3. 3. Host training events for childcare center directors and educators on the SJD campus,
  4. Support family engagement events at childcare centers through direct participation in preparing educational activities, serving meals, and in-kind donations, and
  5. Serve on the ALP prayer team.

More information on volunteer opportunities is available online at A Lighted Path.

Read the previous posts in this series:

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