Where we’ve been…

SELF’s story began in August 2001 when six representatives of the collaborative’s founding members sat over coffee and asked the question, “How can we work to improve opportunities for our community’s, infants, toddlers and preschoolers?”  This question began a journey that has made a significant contribution to our children and our community.  Throughout our 13-year history, we have had many successes and learned many lessons while never wavering from our original vision that every child in Clark County be prepared on the first day of kindergarten.

Our collaborative expanded to 20+ early learning partners and between May 2002 and 2010, we raised over $4 million, for early learning programs and services through grants, events, and donors. We actively pursued filling gaps in services and built programs that:

  • Supported parents as their child’s first teacher — 15,106
  • Promoted literacy and a love of reading — 22,850
  • Advanced quality improvements In early childhood programs — 1,347
  • Connected early learning and K-3 education — 15,000

While we made significant progress and enjoyed numerous successes, we also learned some valuable lessons:

  • We need a sustainable funding stream to support programs
  • We need community-wide, multi-sector engagement and investment

As a result, the decision was made for SELF to become a nonprofit organization, with a community-based board of directors.  The board of directors was charged with building a county-wide social change movement for early childhood education.


Where we’re headed…

In 2010 with a small dedicated board of directors and one staff member, we created Our Children Can’t Wait, a social change movement that will allow us to build a comprehensive, high-quality, collaborative early learning system in Clark County.  In 2012, we adopted a social impact framework (Collective Impact), a model used successfully around the country, as our approach for Our Children Can’t Wait.

Research shows that quality early learning can make a big difference, especially for disadvantaged children by closing the opportunity gaps that start before kindergarten.

Early learning is a smart investment that helps build a stronger education system and a more competitive workforce for the future.