As a person who is passionate about supporting a vibrant, growing and inclusive Jewish community, I have always been interested in investments that help create systemic and lasting impact. The early childhood space is a pivotal inflection point for families, and support of this area in particular can have a lifelong impact on families, as well as on our broader community.
On a personal note, our family recently experienced the Jewish early childhood sector firsthand. When we began searching for an early childhood center, we knew we wanted to send our kids to a loving and warm place where they could be nurtured and supported, helping foster their social and emotional skills. We ultimately chose a preschool that met those requirements—and happened to be Jewish. Although the Jewish focus wasn’t the main driver in our decision, I came to realize that it was the very element made this early childhood center exceptional. I had not set out to find meaning or a deeper connection to Judaism, but somehow, as our son would bring activities and resources home from school, I found a Judaism that was more approachable. I started to get that sense of being part of something larger than myself.
Having experienced the impact of the early childhood space as a mother, I’m now more committed than ever to supporting and strengthening these organizations for the benefit of families today and tomorrow. The Jewish Early Childhood Collaborative is the perfect vehicle because of its focus on areas that funders don’t necessarily consider: capacity building; targeted supports in financials and marketing; and creating/maintaining a culture of excellence. As a taskforce member, I have seen the thoughtfulness that directors and school leaders bring to the table, as well as the remarkable ways in which they must stretch and collaborate to serve their communities. I know that by participating in The Collaborative, I am contributing to the betterment of all our early childhood programs.
Ultimately, while Jewish preschools are programmatically strong, they still struggle— as the majority of early childhood programs do—with slim or non-existent margins, making planning year-to-year incredibly difficult. As funders, we must help ensure that our community partners have access to the resources they need to develop strong operational foundations. By supporting their “back of house” functions, we can help our partners develop sustainable business practices so that they can deliver the same, meaningful early childhood experiences that we’ve benefited from to families and children for generations to come.
Danielle Rudas Goodman is a member of the board for Crown Family Philanthropies.