Origin of Best Beginnings

Joe WilliamsThe seeds for Best Beginnings were planted in 2003, when the Alaska Humanities Forum, United Way of Anchorage, the Rasmuson Foundation, The CIRI Foundation, and the Alaska State Library began to focus attention on the need for coordinated efforts in early childhood literacy in Alaska.

Nationwide, a movement on early education and literacy was triggered by a book published in 2000 called “Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development,” which cast a spotlight on the gap between scientific knowledge about early childhood and actual practices in society.

This book put the nation on alert about the need to address early learning and literacy as a social and economic imperative.

In 2004, the Alaska Humanities Forum, with encouragement and funding from the Rasmuson Foundation and The CIRI Foundation, convened a gathering of professionals from myriad entities engaged in early childhood literacy.

In May 2005, a summit was held where the importance of early learning was seen in tandem with early literacy. This lead to the formation of the Alaska Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Task Force, which was comprised of leaders from business, civic, non-profit, philanthropic, education, and government sectors.

In September 2006, the 27-member Task Force released its report and recommendations for how Alaska can better prepare children for success in school and in life. Best Beginnings emerged from the Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Task Force as a public-private partnership charged with pursuing the task force recommendations.