NOVEMBER 20, 2023

Organization: Collaboration for Early Childhood
Phone: 708-613-6122


The Collaboration for Early Childhood, a collective impact organization based in Oak Park, Illinois, adopts a new strategic plan that sharpens their focus and refreshes their vision and mission to help them best meet the challenges and opportunities that the future brings for young children.  

Oak Park, Illinois, November 20, 2023 – The Collaboration for Early Childhood is pleased to present their strategic plan that will take effect in 2024. Earlier this fall, the Collaboration’s Board of Directors, Collaboration Council, community members, and staff met to review and endorse the organization’s ambitious, growth-oriented strategic plan. This plan provides a blueprint for the Collaboration’s work over the next three years (2024-2026). It reflects key programmatic and organizational priorities and offers a substantive mix of big picture direction and concrete steps to hold the organization accountable to the work, while having the flexibility to adapt to evolving conditions, as well as soliciting continued input and community feedback along the way.

Over the timeline of the plan, the Collaboration staff will track its progress to the vision and goals outlined in the plan, continuously evaluate and refine along the way, and, in partnership with the Board and input from stakeholders, conduct a “refresh” of the plan at the end of year three. 

This strategic plan is the first since the Collaboration’s 2009 “Plan for the Partnership for Human Development” and its forward-looking goals and priorities outline actions that respond to an early learning landscape that has changed dramatically since that time. The strategic plan outlines a framework that focuses on supporting and delivering on the Collaboration for Early Childhood’s mission. The plan outlines four key action areas: 

  • Deepen Local Impact – With the input and collaboration of the Oak Park and River Forest communities, the Collaboration will deepen its roots by increasing its presence, continuing to build early childhood system capacity, and innovating to serve the evolving needs of young children, families, and early childhood professionals.
  • Widen System Impact – To further the reach of its vision, the Collaboration will expand its work by convening, learning, collaborating, and advising on new ideas, including with state and local partners beyond Oak Park and River Forest’s borders, to support the needs of young children, families, and early childhood professionals.
  • Cultivate Organizational Maturation – To ensure it can continue to grow its impact and most effectively deliver on its vision, the Collaboration will further develop its internal governance and operational systems, efficacy in addressing equity and inclusion, capabilities of staff, and organizational culture.
  • Ensure Financial Sustainability – To sustain the vision of its model and the mission of its work, the Collaboration will take steps to ensure it remains financially stable for years to come, including diversifying its revenue sources and making decisions to invest in its future, while considering the evolving dynamics of early childhood funding sources.

“The Collaboration’s new strategic plan is a powerful reflection of the voiced strengths and needs of our early childhood community. We have already begun working toward the goals outlined in this plan to nurture young children and the care constellations surrounding them. Since the very beginning, the Collaboration for Early Childhood has believed in building communities where every child can thrive,” says Mary Reynolds, Executive Director of the Collaboration for Early Childhood.  

The Collaboration’s strategic planning process began in 2019 but was put on hold as the organization, along with the rest of the world, responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. The work restarted in early 2022, with a pause as the Collaboration for Early Childhood onboarded Mary Reynolds as the Collaboration’s new Executive Director in spring, 2023. Work ramped up after Becca Goldstein of BG Consulting was brought on to guide the process in the spring of 2022. The process included interviews with staff and board, outcomes from two board retreats, a series of focus groups with early childhood professionals, parents, community partners, home visitors and health professionals, a virtual convening of all of the Collaboration’s Program Committees and working groups and an accompanying survey to leverage the deep knowledge and connection across its program areas and to give shape to the plan. 

This is a cohesive, forward looking plan for the Collaboration for Early Childhood and I look forward to seeing our progress toward the goals outlined. I am grateful to the dedicated work of the strategic planning committee, Becca Goldstein, our strategic planning consultant, the board, and all the stakeholders that shared their voice and expertise to develop a plan that will equitably deliver on shared goals for the community as a whole,” says Bob Tucker, Chair of the Board of Directors and Member of the Strategic Planning Committee. 

Work under the strategic plan is already underway. The Collaboration for Early Childhood welcomes interested community members to explore the full plan that includes the vision for success and strategies in each of the four priorities at  

About the Collaboration for Early Childhood 

As part of its strategic planning process, the Collaboration for Early Childhood refreshed its mission, vision, and core values to better reflect how the organization has evolved since its founding in 2002. 

Mission. The Collaboration for Early Childhood is a community-driven organization that cultivates the development of the whole child, birth to age five, by engaging families, local organizations, early childhood educators, caregivers, and health providers to create equitable, nurturing, and interconnected systems of support.

VisionThe Collaboration for Early Childhood envisions communities where every young child has the care, relationships, and resources needed to thrive and to begin school safe, healthy, and empowered to succeed.

Core Values

  1. Collaboration. Works with partners in a way that is mutual and respectful; encourages listening, knowledge sharing, and joint problem-solving; allows each party to strengthen its own capabilities by learning from others; and realizes a shared commitment to more equitably serving the needs of young children, families, and early childhood professionals.
  2. Whole Child. Meets each child where they are and supports all aspects of the child’s development – physical, social, emotional, cognitive – while respecting each child as a member of the community and as an individual, including the child’s ability, culture, ethnicity, gender, language, race, and religion.
  3. Equity. Ensures that a diverse range of voices contributes to the Collaboration’s efforts, particularly the important work of dismantling systemic barriers that have historically limited access to high quality services and supports for children and families who are under-resourced or marginalized, while celebrating the range of backgrounds, experiences, and identities that comprise an inclusive community.
  4. Community-Driven. Engages local families and early childhood professionals to gather their wisdom and perspectives, utilizing the findings to ensure the Collaboration’s work is continually and culturally responsive to the expressed needs, hopes, and interests of young children, families, early childhood professionals, and communities in which they live. 
  5. Organizational Professionalism. Operates with honesty, integrity, and accountability, in a way that is continually informed by research and community input; reliably, responsibly, and respectfully delivers high-quality work and effective outcomes; and transparently reports progress and adjusts strategies to ensure continuous improvement in impacting the children, families, early childhood professionals and communities with whom we work.

The Collaboration for Early Childhood is a collective impact organization based in Oak Park, Illinois. To learn more about the Collaboration, visit Questions may be directed to Mary Reynolds,

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