Learn to Earn Dayton's beginning traces back to EDvention, an initiative launched by the Montgomery County Educational Service Center. Begun in 2007, EDvention was a collaborative aimed at improving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities for young people. In 2011, EDvention became Learn to Earn Dayton, expanding its focus beyond STEM and becoming Montgomery County's cradle-to-career initiative.
But even before there was Learn to Earn Dayton, the Montgomery County Commission and multiple Dayton-area philanthropic organizations recognized that to improve K-12 student achievement and educational attainment, our community needed to ensure more children start school ready to learn.
These leaders began investing in improving the early childhood education landscape, forming the Montgomery County Early Care & Education Initiative. ReadySetSoar was created as part of that work, and it focused exclusively on young children — improving their Kindergarten readiness and 3rd-grade reading proficiency.
For several years, Learn to Earn Dayton and ReadySetSoar worked side-by-side. Then, in 2015-2016, the organizations merged. Both organizations had embraced the collective impact model championed by the Strive Together cradle-to-career network, which is dedicated to raising student achievement, beginning at birth and continuing until children are prepared for a career.
Yet another important transition occurred in 2016 when the City of Dayton made important history. Daytonians passed a 0.25% income tax increase to support important city services and to offer 1 year of affordable, quality Preschool to all families of 4-year-olds.
Championed first by Montgomery County, Preschool Promise was institutionalized in the City of Dayton with sustained funding. The Dayton community was ready to make this bold leap after executing successful demonstration projects first in the suburb of Kettering, and then in Kettering and Northwest Dayton.
Because of the overwhelming support of Dayton voters — 56% voted "yes" for Issue 9 — Preschool Promise was expanded to all of Dayton beginning in the 2017-18 school year.
In 2017, Preschool Promise became a stand-alone 501(c)(3) organization, and now is led by a 5-member board of directors. It is fiscally separate from Learn to Earn Dayton, though the two organizations are close partners.
Today, Learn to Earn Dayton is focused on promoting evidence-based practices that foster student success at critical junctures throughout children's education journey. The organization’s work includes:
- Promoting Kindergarten readiness
- Improving 3rd-grade reading scores
- Improving 8th-grade math proficiency
- Reducing chronic absenteeism
- Increasing summer and afterschool learning opportunities
- Expanding career pathways for young people, starting in middle and high school
- Driving up completion of the FAFSA
- Fostering enrollment in college
- Increasing college degree and credential attainment
In all of this work, Learn to Earn Dayton is committed to fostering equity, recognizing that far too many African-American and Appalachian young people do not share the same advantages and privileges of many of their middle-class peers. In addition to promoting best practices for all students, Learn to Earn Dayton supports and promotes targeting the Dayton community's resources to the highest-need young people.