E3 Pivots to Tackle BIG Challenges

Teacher and student drawing

Dear Friends,

In 2005, the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, business, civic and philanthropic leaders created Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads (SBSHR), one of three regional early education initiatives in the state (Fairfax, South Hampton Roads and Williamsburg).  SBSHR moved the meter from 1 in 5 kids not ready for kindergarten to 1 in 10 by raising awareness, advocating for public-private investment, building capacity and improving quality alongside our partners.  After nearly a decade, the leadership of SBSHR and investors recognized that public investment had flatlined at the state level.  The regional organization was dissolved and the baton was passed to partners who would continue the initiatives in South Hampton Roads.  There were organizations like VECF doing systems-building and programmatic work, regional Smart Beginnings coalitions tackling readiness at the locality level and VOICES advocating for children’s issues.

A statewide Political Strategy Committee was formed in partnership with VECF and a government relations firm was hired by the committee to understand where the issue stood in the legislature and with stakeholders.  The report recommended a privately-funded advocacy group be created with the goal of increasing state investment.  Based upon what we were hearing across the state, these goals were identified as next steps:

  • Define the problem and readiness gap beyond literacy.
  • Advocate for a Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission (JLARC) study to analyze funding and outcomes of state programs for children birth to five.
  • Position early childhood as an education issue.
  • Create a model school as a catalyst for policy change.
  • Advocate for increased public-private investment.
  • Ensure bipartisan support.
  • Increase equitable access to quality for all children.
  • Push for a dedicated funding stream.

In 2011, E3: Elevate Early Education (E3) was created as a bipartisan issue-advocacy organization that advocates for greater state investment with a focus on access to quality for all children.  With your help, we have made great strides in moving the meter in the right direction for our children.  Check out E3’s policy and legislative results.  The focus of our work through SBSHR, E3 and The New E3 School has always been solving BIG problems with innovative solutions.

Prior to the health crisis, E3 worked alongside national and state experts to determine the work ahead.  In the wake of COVID-19, we have an even bigger challenge to solve.  Our children are falling behind more and more every day.  Children, parents and teachers need our help.

That is why E3 is going to pivot and expand our focus up to third grade.

We look forward to tackling this problem and promise to take the long view on solving it with strategic partners.  Learn more about our strategy here.


Lisa Howard
President & CEO, E3: Elevate Early Education &
The New E3 School


Invest in our Children!