A photo of students


The first 10 years of a child’s life are a critical developmental period that impacts all that follows. During these years, opportunity and achievement gaps begin early for the millions of U.S. children who live in families with low or below poverty-level incomes. Research shows that investing in education and comprehensive services for these children has long-term benefits. Yet the disjointed patchwork of education, health, and social services programs in the United States leaves far too many children vulnerable and at risk.

Nationwide, EDC’s First 10 initiative supports community partnerships in creating pathways out of poverty for young children and their families. First 10 brings together elementary schools, early childhood programs, community organizations, and health and social services agencies to dramatically improve the well-being, school readiness, and school success of children.

Key Activities

First 10 provides leaders with the guidance and continuous improvement tools they need to ensure all children thrive. Current activities include:

  • Facilitate comprehensive needs assessments and provide individualized consultations
  • Partner with communities to design plans to apply and sustain the four First 10 strategies:
    • Support professional collaboration to improve teaching and learning
    • Coordinate comprehensive services for children and families
    • Promote culturally responsive partnerships with families
    • Provide strategic leadership and ongoing assessment
  • Launch and support a network of First 10 sites to facilitate peer learning
  • Study and raise awareness of innovative communities’ successes using the First 10 approach
  • Develop and share practical guidance on how to use the First 10 approach

Learn More

Heising-Simons Foundation, Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, Rhode Island Department of Education, Maine Department of Education, Lancaster County Community Action Partnership, Pennsylvania Early Learning Resource Centers 9 and 10