National Momentum Builds to Close the Word Gap

It’s not every day that we get a chance to celebrate victories, is it? But lately the good news about local efforts to close the word gap has been buoying all of us at Too Small to Fail. People across the country are in agreement that talking, reading, and singing to children from birth strengthens bonds with them and builds vocabularies so they can better prepare for school.

In this newsletter, we’d like to share some of that good news with you.

In case you missed it, last week Too Small to Fail launched its first local campaign in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Working with community partners like the George Kaiser Family Foundation, CAP Tulsa, and Tulsa Educare, we announced a campaign that will help parents and caregivers increase the number of words they speak directly to their babies and toddlers every day. We’re really excited about this initiative, and are hopeful that by working with local pediatricians, faith-based leaders, business owners and others to share the campaign’s messages, we can help close the word gap in Tulsa.

In Chicago, PNC Foundation (part of the PNC Bank) just announced a $19 million, multi-year initiative to help Chicago parents and caregivers build their children’s vocabularies. The initiative will fund early learning and vocabulary programs—including the Thirty Million Words Initiative started by Too Small to Fail advisory council member Dr. Dana Suskind—and will track the progress of the participating families for several years.

The city of Providence, Rhode Island, announced just two weeks ago that it was launching an intensive program that combines home visitation with other community-wide efforts to empower parents to close the word gap by speaking and reading more to their children. Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has been a committed advocate on this issue, and expects the program to eventually help more than 2,000 families in the area.

And First Five California recently launched its new effort to help parents and caregivers understand the importance of using everyday moments to build their children’s vocabularies in a statewide campaign called “Talk. Read. Sing.”. Commercials and radio spots are filling the air with messages about baby and toddler development, and ways to get parents and little kids more engaged in talk and play.

Finally, our partner Univision Communications announced this week a national month-long effort named “Accion por los Niños” aimed at Hispanic families to raise awareness and increase the time they spend talking, reading and singing to their very young children. The media company will host a series of events across the country including reading gardens with Univision celebrities, special programming in affiliate stations and press events with elected leaders.

We hope you find this good news encouraging, and that you can find a way to support efforts to close the word gap—either in your family or your community. Either way, we look forward to hearing about it.

In The News:


Check out one of the First Five California ads that aims to empower parents and caregivers to close the word gap. >>

This needs no explanation.


I’m following my leader!

Just in case you don’t tweet, live under a rock, or somehow misplaced your Clinton Decoder Pin, here is The Leader and her reply.


Well, that explains what happened to my iPad! RT : I’m following my leader!

On Thursday, April 3, Hillary will team up once again with Christine Lagarde for a conversation moderated by Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times.   The event is part of the opening day of the  5th Women in the World Summit and will take place at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater.

State Dept. Launches Women In Public Service Initiative


Two of the most powerful women in the world discuss the global political and economic crisis of our time- from the sparks of the Cold War reignited in the Ukraine to the deep divides cleaving the Middle East.

The Hon. Hillary Rodham ClintonFormer Secretary of State and Former U.S. Senator from New York
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

MODERATED BYThomas L. Friedman, Foreign Affairs Columnist, The New York Times

Read more about Women in the World >>>>

Read more about Women in the World Summit 2014 >>>>


A Strong Early Learning Community in Tulsa

This week, Too Small to Fail and former Secretary Hillary Clinton announced our first local campaign in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The new campaign, titled “Talking is Teaching”, is being developed in partnership with local organizations, including the George Kaiser Family Foundation, CAP Tulsa and Tulsa Educare. These partners have been actively working on early learning and family support programs in Oklahoma communities for years.

“Talking is Teaching” will communicate directly with Tulsa parents and caregivers through ads on buses, grocery stores and other places that families congregate. But the campaign will also enlist pediatricians, faith-based leaders, business owners and educators to share how talking, reading and singing to babies every day can boost their vocabularies and brain development.

Research shows that just 15 minutes a day—or five minutes, three times a day—of reading, talking or singing can make a big difference. And parents and caregivers can do these things with their babies and young children while they’re doing other things, like taking a walk, doing laundry, or cooking a meal.

We believe that parents and caregivers want the best for their children’s early learning, and we are optimistic that through community-wide initiatives like the one in Tulsa, more families will make talking, reading and singing part of their daily routines.

You can read more about our launch in Tulsa here, here and in a story about the word gap featured in the New York Times.

And the Too Small to Fail Facebook Giveaway Winners Are…

Last week, we celebrated reaching 100,000 followers on our Facebook page with a special giveaway. Several hundred people entered the free giveaway and shared it with friends and family members. This week, winners were chosen randomly and, as promised, we’re sharing those names here.

Minerva Gates

Donna McCloskey

Silvana De Dios 

Congratulations to all who won! Winners can contact us via email at info@toosmall.org.

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Hillary’s day spanned education from Pre-K – 16+ today.  In Tulsa, she joined George Kaiser  to kick off the “Talking is Teaching” Campaign  - a joint effort of her Too Small to Fail Initiative with the Kaiser Family Foundation,  CAP Tulsa,  and Tulsa Educare.


Tulsa, OK
Press Release

Multi-Media Campaign Will Empower Parents and Family Members of Young Children to Realize Their Potential as Their Children’s First Teachers by Offering Tools and Tips to Boost Vocabulary and Early Learning

Tulsa, OK—Local community leaders in Tulsa, Oklahoma will come together today to join forces with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, to announce the launch of a new local campaign that will help parents and caregivers of children ages birth to five prepare their children for success in school and beyond.

Tulsa has notably emerged as a national leader in its commitment to early childhood education. The campaign, titled “Talking is Teaching”, has been developed in partnership with local community organizations that have extensive experience in improving early learning and health among Tulsa families, including the George Kaiser Family Foundation, CAP Tulsa, and Tulsa Educare. The campaign will use a community-wide approach—engaging pediatricians, business owners, faith-based leaders, librarians and others—to empower parents and caregivers to boost young children’s brain development and build their vocabularies by increasing the number of words they hear spoken to them every day.

Upon learning about the effort, U.S. Senator from Oklahoma and family physician Tom Coburn expressed support for the campaign: “When it comes to raising children no one knows better—or cares more—than parents.  Every parent wants to ensure the healthy development of their infants and toddlers.  I appreciate what the George Kaiser Family Foundation and others are doing to help convey to parents the best advice about what they can do to encourage the physical, cognitive and personal development of their children.”

When parents and caregivers talk, read and sing to their young children every day, they help develop important vocabulary as well as cognitive, social and emotional skills necessary for later learning. Put simply, the more words children hear spoken to them directly every day, the better they learn.

According to recent field research conducted, a majority of low-income parents, grandparents and other caregivers in Tulsa recognize that they personally have an impact on their child’s brain development.  Yet, many of those surveyed admit that they could be doing more on a daily basis to help their children increase their vocabulary:

  • Only 55 percent of parents and 47 percent of grandparents report reading to their children every day.
  • Fewer than half report telling their children a story, singing a song or playing a non-electronic game every day.

“Talking is Teaching” will share with parents and caregivers how simple actions—like describing objects seen during a walk or bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories for just five minutes, three times a day—can significantly improve a baby’s ability to learn new words and concepts.

“Through my involvement with Educare,” said Rondalyn Abode, Tulsa Educare parent and employee, “I was taught that I can be the very best teacher for my children. It’s good to have resources and support to help me do this.  The ‘Talking is Teaching’ campaign will help bring resources and support to a broader audience, and it’s exciting that this is starting in Tulsa.”

In addition to creative messaging from the campaign that will appear throughout the community, local partners and pediatricians will disseminate messages directly to parents and caregivers using family toolkits developed with Sesame Workshop; and to pediatricians using clinical toolkits on early literacy developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The campaign will also test new technology developed by the Bezos Family Foundation to help remind parents to build these activities into their daily lives.

“Talking is Teaching” will be developed as a model that can be learned from and shared in other communities across the country.

A PDF of tips for parents is available for download at www.talkingisteaching.org. Additional samples of the message campaign will be made available to members of the press upon request.

Read more >>>>



In Dallas, she joined Jeb Bush and Jim Hunt for the Globalization of Higher Education Conference.



Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton together again to talk education

(CNN) – Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton – two central figures in modern politics with 2016 prospects – joined forces Monday to talk global education.

In her keynote address, Clinton praised Bush’s dedication to education reform since serving two terms as governor of Florida, where he overhauled the state’s education system, introducing a school voucher program and banning using race as a factor in university admissions.

The Globalization of Higher Education conference in Irving, Texas, hosted by Bush and former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, was aimed at exploring the link between globalization and post-secondary education.

Read more >>>>


Finally,  a tweet from Hillary herself!

. Great day launching . And, I made some new friends:


Chelsea Clinton was first on the stage at the Saturday evening closing plenary of CGI U 2014 webcast from Arizona State University.  She encouraged participants to join the Day of Action she is leading on Sunday, announced winners of some competitions that had been run in the course of the conference, and encouraged participants to return with their acquired wisdom next time around.  More than 690 new commitments came of the weekend events.

Soon she was surprised  by ASU graduate and late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel who took over the role of moderator.

Telling the audience that Chelsea’s parents could not get a sitter, Kimmel then welcomed the rest of the “Super Family” to the stage.


Kimmel’s first question was how they became a Super Family.  Bill Clinton recounted noticing a girl in a class he attended infrequently at Yale who later introduced herself in the library.  Hillary embellished the story saying she heard him before she saw him in a student lounge with vending machines as he bragged about the size of Arkansas watermelons.  That was in 1971, and WJC said he instantaneously became a women’s rights activist upon meeting her.


Chelsea added, with her thanks to vending machines and watermelons,  that her first “reader” was newspapers.  Kimmel quipped that in his family they read the comics and kept their opinions to themselves.  Hillary said that hadn’t worked very well, and Bill Clinton stepped in with some sage advice.


He said he had learned that if you try to do something and fail, sometimes you wind up in a better place.  Hillary agreed saying that if you don’t get what you want right away that is the best time to learn about yourself and decide what you really care about. She said both she and her husband wanted to make a difference.

Turning to early political experience ,  Kimmel asked Hillary about the time at 13 when she called Mayor Daley’s office from the school phone to ask about voting irregularities in Chicago favoring Kennedy.  She explained that while she was the one speaking there were actually about 10 students who had been fired up over their social studies teacher’s experience at the polls and traced her activist spirit to her parents and her teachers.  She advised her audience to find something they care about and be active.

Bill Clinton’s experience came early.  At eight he helped his uncle campaign for a local post.


When Kimmel asked what they would say if Chelsea told them she was a Republican, Hillary quipped, “It’s been nice knowing you.”  Bill Clinton became nostalgic recalling a primary when he had two opponents and the family played mock debates at mealtimes.  Of Chelsea, he said, “She was a better me than me!”  Hillary remembered a similar experience with a shout-out to teachers saying that a teacher who assigned her and her classmate to debate the opposite side of political questions from where they actually stood opened her eyes.  She debated LBJ’s side of questions and not long afterwards changed her political loyalty to the Democratic party.

Chelsea said her parents were always supportive of her stances as long as she could defend them with evidence, and her father chimed in with an example of how she had changed both of her parents’ minds on a healthcare issue once.  Chelsea sees a deficit in civics teaching today and said a big problem is that people do not understand what level of government is responsible for what.


Her father, continuing in the vein of hearing from the “other side” said a big problem today is that we do not want to be around people who disagree with us both in real life and on social media. He told the audience that Hillary’s mom, Dorothy Howell Rodham, well into her 90s watched Fox News just to keep her debating skills sharp.

Kimmel then asked former President Clinton why he was not painting kittens.   Clinton said because he loves what he is doing.  He loves creating new opportunities.


Chelsea said she tried to care about something different from her parents, did not succeed, and is happy to be working with both of them at the foundation.  All the Clintons agreed that they love being able to spend time together, and, contrary to what Kimmel thought, can spend some of that time frivolously – playing games and watching bad movies.

Turning to more serious issues, Chelsea countered a comment from Kimmel about the millennial generation engaging in frivolity saying they are the volunteer generation and that participation is now democratized.  Her dad backed her up saying that there are more than a million NGOs and more than half were organized in the last 18 years.  He pointed out that social media like Facebook and Twitter are being used to organize behind issues and that they encourage collective awareness.

Hillary did not say so at that moment, but given this tweet, clearly she agrees with her husband on this point.

The freedom to speak out & to connect is a fundamental right. The people of Turkey deserve that right restored.


Kimmel asked what issues the current audience would be facing in 40 years.  Hillary said it is an issue we are facing right now, climate change, and that she hopes it becomes a powerful political issue sooner rather than later.   Chelsea agreed and hopes it becomes a global concern the way nuclear weaponry did.  She would like to see a mass campaign like the one against nuclear weapons.

Bill Clinton hopes that 40 years from now people are not still dealing with identity conflicts like the one we see in Syria today and that people will not feel they must dominate some other group of people in order to have a livelihood.  He,  too, said this is a problem to be addressed now.


Kimmel asked Hillary what she says to people who ask why we help people in other countries and not those at home.  She responded that she does think we have to help our own at home but that people also have to realize that helping others also helps us. She quickly offered three examples:

1)  Health issues can no longer be contained within borders so conquering disease in other countries helps prevent disease here.

2)  Climate change has no borders.

3)  Economy now is world wide and helping other economies helps support our own.

Helping others in a globalized world also helps us.


The last question from the moderator concerned unemployment and Chelsea answered saying that there are a lot of new skills programs but that these programs need to be linked to jobs at the end.  She also cited the decreasing numbers of women in STEM programs where, of course, the jobs are going to be.  More women, she said, need to be encouraged to enter the STEM disciplines.


A Q&A  followed, and perhaps the most important answer from that session was Bill Clinton’s emphasis on the how question.  He said we often know what the problem is.   The big question is usually not what we are going to do but rather how are we going to accomplish it.


A young woman in the audience asked Hillary “If you don’t represent women in America as future president, who will?”  Hillary said she appreciated the sentiment, is concerned about the direction of the country, liked the young woman’s confidence, and is thinking about all kinds of decisions.


Chelsea then took the opportunity to throw the question back at the audience and asked them to consider running for office.  She said she hoped to be voting for some of them.

It was a fitting conclusion to a youth-dominated conference with young folks seeking contact and autographs.


This, meanwhile, was a fitting conclusion to a panel of Clintons moderated by Jimmy Kimmel!



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