Organization Name: Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

Focus Area: Littlest Learners
Region: Global / United States
Sector: Non-Profit
Investment Year: 2015
The mission of the Center on the Developing Child is to drive science-based innovation that achieves breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity. They believe that advances in science provide a powerful source of new ideas focused on the early years of life. Founded in 2006, the Center catalyzes local, national, and international innovation in policy and practice focused on children and families. They design, test, and implement these ideas in collaboration with a broad network of research, practice, policy, community, and philanthropic leaders. Together, they seek transformational impacts on lifelong learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.

Why We Invested

If we want to see impact at scale in early childhood, we must connect science and evidence to scalable innovation. Center on the Developing Child's supports and facilitates this connection. Their wide-ranging research includes areas like brain architecture, executive functioning, and resilience and their programs for parents and caregivers, pediatricians and educators apply these learnings to create a new generation of evidence-based practices. The Center also works to develop methodologies to measure and improve the effectiveness and impact of these programs and works in partnership with others to spread these methods.

What We've Learned

One of the most important leaders and contributors who has changed the conversation about early childhood on a global scale has been Dr. Jack Shonkoff at the Center on the Developing Child. Their work has been instrumental in developing the scientific evidence demonstrating the effects of adverse experiences on young children, as well as working to inform new policy and practice approaches in the early childhood ecosystem.

We are absolutely convinced that none of the problems related to poverty, discrimination, violence, or maltreatment are unsolvable. Once you understand the science and how not inevitable most of the problems are in the world—and how preventable many of them are—it’s just impossible to walk away
Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., Director, Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University