MAY 11, 2021
[Download the Press Release as a PDF]

Contact: Sophie Grimes, Communications Coordinator
Organization: Collaboration for Early Childhood
Phone: 708-613-6122


In partnership with the New Teacher Center and sponsored in part by the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, the Collaboration for Early Childhood will host their inaugural Early Childhood Equity Summit on May 22.

OAK PARK, ILLINOIS, MAY 11, 2021 – The Collaboration for Early Childhood invites local teachers, early childhood educators, community leaders, parents, guardians, and child care providers to the Early Childhood Equity Summit. The Equity Summit is a half-day virtual event that will explore the journey of centering equity within a program or organization, and will take place on the morning of Saturday, May 22, from 8:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

“The Equity Summit has been in the works for a long time,” says Heather Duncan, Director of Early Learning and Equity Initiatives at the Collaboration for Early Childhood. “The event was originally slated for last spring, but we cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the interim, we took time to deeply examine what we wanted from the event and to develop our agency’s Equity Framework, which we will process as a community during the Summit.”

The morning will consist of welcoming remarks by the Collaboration for Early Childhood’s Executive Director, John Borrero, followed by an interactive keynote with Ki Gross of Woke Kindergarten. The morning will also include a panel discussion that examines equity in the Village and introduces the Collaboration for Early Childhood’s Equity Framework. Panel participants include Oak Park Police Chief LaDon Reynolds and Deputy Chief, Shatonya Johnson, as well as Kira Tchang, Director of Human Resources for the Village of Oak Park, and Dr. Jacqueline Moore and Frances Kraft of Equity Team Oak Park. Norma Hernandez, Community Development Planner at UIC, will moderate.

Facilitated breakout sessions after the first panel discussion will allow Summit participants to more deeply process the Equity Framework and share feedback, which the Collaboration will use to shape a final draft that truly incorporates the needs of the community it serves. A second panel discussion will explore the journey and importance of centering equity in early childhood settings. Panel participants include Rob Huber of Pilgrim Church Preschool, Marta Barriga, an Oak Park parent, and Sarai Coba-Rodriguez, Assistant Professor of educational psychology at UIC. Samina Hadi-Tabassum, Clinical Associate Professor at The Erikson Institute, will moderate.

“We are an agency that is embedded here in Oak Park and River Forest. That’s one of the reasons we take community voice very seriously at the Collaboration for Early Childhood. This roster of panelists and participants represent a wide variety of perspectives and voices. I look forward to actively listening to what everyone has to say.” says John Borrero, Executive Director of the Collaboration for Early Childhood.

Gina Harris, Professor of Educator Preparation and Culture Climate Coach at Oak Park Elementary District 97, will close the event with final remarks and a call to action. “Our goal is to inspire participants to continue the work of centering equity in their communities and organizations long after the summit,” says Heather Duncan.

While space is limited, the Early Childhood Equity Summit is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending can visit to register. They can see the full agenda on the Equity Summit webpage.

The Collaboration for Early Childhood is a public/private agency based in Oak Park, Illinois that seeks to improve early childhood outcomes. They do this through capacity-building partnerships, and support of families, educators, health professionals and systems leaders that care for children five and under. 

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