David Njoku, Marcus Martin, and Shon Coleman read books to kids at Glenville Early Learning Center. #give10
CLEVELAND — **Not long after David Njoku showed up to the Centers for Families and Children Glenville Early Learning Center, the rookie Browns tight end was smothered by wide-eyed pre-kindergarten children.
"I was excited just to see them," Njoku said with a wide smile, "and it was apparent they were more excited to see me."
Njoku was joined by offensive linemen Shon Coleman and Marcus Martin on Tuesday afternoon as part of the Browns' commitment to education and youth development and in support of the 2,000 Days Pledge and Cuyahoga County's Invest in Children Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program (UPK).
The trio spent time making crafts, reading and playing games with the youngsters -- activites that all went back toward the Center's central mission of providing at-risk childen with high-quality education.
"I'd say the best part of today was probably the hugs. They're so young, all they know is love. It's beautiful seeing little kids that are happy for me being here," Njoku said. "It's great that we do this, just for us to impact their lives. It's big for them and big for us, too."
Indeed, the 2,000 Days Pledge — an educational commitment encompassing the amount of time between a child's birth and the start of kindergarten — places a focus on parents, families, teachers and pediatricians collaborating to help children prepare for success when starting more formal education.
"For our kids to be able to see players up close, to be able to talk to them, interact with them, that's really meaningful for them to have those role models in their life," said Elizabeth Newman, the president and CEO of The Centers for Families and Children.
The Pledge hopes to boost children's development prior to kindergarten by improving learning experiences and parent-teacher partnerships, in addition to helping select primary schools. University Hospitals (UH) Rainbow Babies & Children's has also partnered with Browns Give Back and The Centers to expand the 2,000 Days Pledge to pediatrician's offices throughout the UH network and provide additional health resources to families who take the pledge.
Browns Give Backs's partnership with Cuyahoga County also supports the launch of the Glenville Early Learning Center, which provides high-quality early learning experiences for free to 40 local kids living in one of Cleveland's most at-risk neighborhoods. Through Invest in Children, the county is committed to helping create a new gold standard of high-quality preschool in the local community and making high-quality early learning experiences accessible to more low- and moderate-income families while improving school readiness among disadvantaged children.
"Cuyahoga County must be a place where our children start school ready to learn, graduate high school, graduate college and build their careers, businesses and live right here," said county executive Armond Budish. " We must be a place where our zip code does not determine how far we will go in life."
"There exists over 30 years of data that prove investing in high quality early care and education pays dividends for the individual child, their family, and society as a whole that far exceed the cost," added Rebekah Dorman, the Director of Invest in Children.
A core focus of Browns Give Back is education, and the Cleveland Browns Foundation supports this mission through financial grants and other resources to local, education non-profits to ensure youth in Northeast Ohio receive the education and development they need as a foundation for independence and success. The Cleveland Browns Foundation has identified three areas of impact – school attendance, early learning and college and career readiness – with the goal of identifying opportunities, removing barriers and providing support for students to empower them for long-term success.
Through Browns Give Back, the Cleveland Browns are dedicated to #give10 through the team's First and Ten initiative. Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to volunteer in and help their communities throughout the world by volunteering for 10 hours each year.
Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community.
About the Cleveland Browns and Browns Give Back:
The Browns Give Back to Northeast Ohio with a commitment to education and youth football while engaging the community through the team's signature First and Ten volunteer movement. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/brownsgiveback.
About The Centers for Families and Children 2,000 Days Pledge:
Through a new partnership with The Centers for Families and Children and University Hospitals, Browns Give Back is supporting the 2,000 Days Pledge, which encourages parents to become advocates for their child's learning from birth to provide the best possible start to their education and development.
The Centers for Families and Children (The Centers) employs an integrated strategy to improve the lives of those we serve through integrated behavioral health, primary care, early learning, and workforce services. Through the 2,000 Days Pledge, The Centers works to ensure parents and family members understand the importance of children's experiences during their first 2,000 days, spanning birth to the start of kindergarten, that have a lasting impact on later success in school and life. The Centers has more than 900 children enrolled in early-learning centers and home-based programs across Greater Cleveland. The Centers is one of the oldest and largest nonprofit organizations in Northeast Ohio, serving more than 23,000 people annually in our community. VisitTheCentersOhio.org to learn more.
Invest in Children
Invest in Children mobilizes resources and energy to ensure the wellbeing of all young children in Cuyahoga County, provide supportive services to parents and caregivers, and build awareness, momentum, and advocacy in the community around children and family issues. Compelled by a wide body of research demonstrating that the first five years of a child's life are a time of tremendous brain growth, and guided by the recognition that no single agency alone could accomplish the ambitious task of preparing young children for success in school and life, Cuyahoga County and key community leaders created the public/private partnership known as Invest in Children (IIC).
Invest in Children has been recognized as a leader in early childhood system building within the state and the nation. The programs of Invest in Children include the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Program, as well as early childhood literacy and mental health efforts, programs to support pregnancy and infant health, and advocacy work to ensure the needs of young children and families are carefully considered in public policy and practice. All programs are evaluated independently by a team at Case Western Reserve University.