The Civic Canopy provided backbone support to the Early Childhood Colorado Partnership (ECCP) for over seven years. This included facilitating meetings and action teams, updating membership lists, hosting the website, coordinating network projects, developing resources, and much more. One significant network project that emerged after the 2014 Toxic Stress in the First Three Years Summit was the need to create a shared way to talk about early adversity and toxic stress that would resonate with early childhood professionals and the public.
Following the 2014 Summit, numerous ECCP partners crafted proposals to create messaging tools and resources for their own organization or for the community they served. In response to what seemed like a splintered approach, the Canopy convened ECCP conversations about how to pool resources and efforts to create a collective approach. As Katie Poston, the Project Manager for Early Milestones Colorado explains, “If we’re all sounding the same and we’re all speaking from the same voice, we have more of an opportunity to make the impact that we hope to see.”
The Canopy staff designed and facilitated a table where multiple ECCP partners were able to bring their messaging and communication goals and expertise together. This resulted in the pooling of resources to maximize efforts and create a shared messaging platform. The combined resources allowed partners to contract with national research entity FrameWorks Institute and local communications and marketing firm, GroundFloor Media to work with a steering committee of early childhood partners to identify key audiences, message frames, and ultimately, develop the Shared Message Bank. The Canopy provided the project management support for this collective effort, including braiding funds to create contracts, coordinating Shared Message Bank Committee meetings and plans, facilitating trainings to build capacity of statewide partners, and monitoring the project process and outcomes. The Canopy provided the incubation space and infrastructure to design and pilot the Shared Message Bank which now resides within Colorado’s broader early childhood system, ensuring access to all who want to utilize it.
Jordan Ash the Early Childhood Mental Health Director for the Office of Early Childhood says, “The shared message bank has really distilled an incredible amount of research down to…these important messages that can be communicated to families, policy makers, legislatures, and even the business community.”
Rather than a single script, organizations can adapt the core messages to the needs of their organization. For example, Maegan Lokteff, Executive Director for Grand Beginnings said, “We did revamp our website and our brochures to include the language from the shared message bank. One of the messages that we really tweaked for our community is that everyone who depends on someone depends on someone who depends on childcare.” Whereas, Nancy Almond, Executive Director of EVICS had a different approach, “Members of my staff are on committees and on the town board in our community and we’ve been able to use that messaging in conversations so that it’s recognized and integrated into larger community conversations.”
Hear more from the folks who have contributed to and actively use the Shared Message Bank.