According to traditional wisdom, the best place to start is at the beginning. When it comes to tackling some of the most pressing issues facing the city, this advice is no less pertinent. So when People First, a non-profit initiative of Memphis Fast Forward, took on the challenge of improving education and talent retention in Memphis, they started at the very beginning — before a student is even born.

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Pre-K Matters

The well-being of today’s children affects the future vitality of our community. Young children who enjoy positive early experiences are better able to develop the skills that prepare them for school. Children who arrive at kindergarten prepared to learn perform better throughout school and complete more years of education. A more educated workforce, in turn, means higher incomes, more public revenues, and less poverty and crime — in other words, a thriving city that attracts business and jobs.

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The Urban Child Institute recently launched its Baby Small campaign, offering a big idea: we can improve the future of our community through small, smart decisions and actions that promote optimal early childhood brain development. Baby Small reminds us that the first years of life are a period of both extraordinary development and extraordinary opportunity. Babies' brains develop in response to their environments.

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How much money is our community willing to invest to improve academic achievement rates and educational outcomes in Shelby County Schools?

As the November 6th presidential and municipal elections draw near, that is one of the questions that local residents will have to considered.

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Pre-K Matters

It's a simple statement of fact, backed by the findings by hundreds of researchers over many years and the experiences of tens of thousands of educators. They are two words that should be at the top of the list of priorities for the U.S. government, Tennessee government, and our local governments. Those two words are also the title of a new infographic that makes the case for the importance of Pre-K and the dramatic returns on investments that it delivers.

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