Register Now for the Mississippi Forum for the Future Summit!

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Registration is now live for the Mississippi Forum for the Future Summit on Thursday, May 18th, 2023! We’ll be gathering in-person at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond, Mississippi from 9:00am – 3:00pm. A virtual attendance option is also available. During the Summit, we’ll discuss strategic and tangible ways we can come together to build a state-of-the-art childcare system that meets the needs of all Mississippi children and families. More specifically, attendees will learn how they can join Forum for the Future in a structured approach to achieving the following outcomes in Mississippi by 2030: 

  • Childcare is a stable, competitive, and respected field.
  • Families throughout the state have access to affordable childcare.
  • Communities experience improved health, academic, and economic outcomes through early care and education programs.
  • Early care and education programs are supported by sustained resources and investment.

We’re excited to share that Libbie Sonnier, Ph. D., the Executive Director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, will be joining us as a speaker!

Recognized for her tenacity and deep commitment to children, Dr. Sonnier has led teams in system-wide initiatives for the betterment of children, families, caregivers, and practitioners for more than two decades. During her time at the Louisiana Policy Institute, she has helped secure and direct more than $1 billion for early care and education in Louisiana, including a 20-year millage that creates one of the nation’s largest dedicated funds for infant and toddler care in New Orleans. She also helped conceive, launch, and co-chair the Steering Committee of Geaux Far Louisiana, a comprehensive effort that engages parents and early childhood health and education providers in leading the transformation of the state’s early childhood systems to better meet the needs of families.

Who Should Attend?

All are welcome, but we think the following types of people and organizations would get the most out of this event:

  • Early childhood researchers, advocates, and service providers
  • Childcare program directors and teachers
  • Government agencies
  • Business and human resources leaders
  • Nonprofit and philanthropic agencies working on behalf of children or workforce development
  • Mayors, legislators, and other local, regional or state-level officials and policymakers
  • Parent and community advocates

We strongly encourage everyone to attend this event in-person, if possible. If in-person attendance is impossible, a live virtual attendance option is available.

During the Summit, we’ll launch three working groups.

Working groups bring people together to work on distinct, time-bound projects that will help us make concrete progress toward our target outcomes. Working groups are not committees – they are project teams with concrete deliverables.

Working Group 1: Explore Childcare Participation in Early Learning Collaboratives

Working Group 2: Explore funding structures to provide wage supplements and professional development directly to childcare workers.

Working Group 3: Analyze the cost of providing quality childcare services across care models & settings (including at-home and center-based). Determine how to close the gap between how much quality services cost and how much families can afford to pay.

General Summit Agenda

9:00 – 9:30: Summit Check-In & Continental Breakfast

PART 1: 9:30AM – 12:00PM

  1. Welcome & Background: Share history and purpose of Forum for the Future
  2. Where We’re Going: Discuss Forum for the Future’s Common Agenda for creating a state-of-the-art childcare system, including how we’ll define success and measure progress. During this segment, we’ll explore how the common agenda aligns with attendee’s work, morals, and values.
  3. How We’ll Get There: Learn how we’ll leverage the power of people to achieve shared goals.
  4. Success Stories from the Field: Hear from guest speakers about how they started small to achieve big change.
  5. How to Get Involved: We’ll share what it means to be a member of Forum for the Future, including member responsibilities and incentives/benefits members will receive.

12:00 – 1:00: Lunch

PART 2: 1:00PM – 3:00PM

  1. Moving from Planning to Action: In the afternoon, we will formally launch three working groups that will work on distinct, time-bound projects that will help us make concrete progress toward our target outcomes.
  2. Choose Your Own Adventure: Attendees are invited to join one of three breakout rooms to learn more about a specific working group they might like to join, and discuss the project with other potential working group members.

PLEASE NOTE: Applications for travel stipends were due by April 21, 2023 and the application window is now closed. If you applied for a travel stipend, you will receive more information about your stipend during the week of April 24 – 28. If you have not heard from a MELA team member about your stipend by Monday, May 1, 2023, please email Chloe Lake at

Thank you to our Summit sponsor, the ACT Corporate Giving Program!

About Forum for the Future

Forum for the Future is a movement to transform the childcare system in Mississippi. More specifically, Forum for the Future is a collective impact initiative that is designed to help Mississippi’s early childhood organizations and advocates break down silos and leverage their combined efforts, resources, and expertise to work toward one big goal: building a state-of-the-art childcare system that meets the needs of all children and families in Mississippi. 

Forum for the Future’s success will be driven by the continued guidance, participation, and support of early childhood & childcare professionals, parents, business owners, policymakers, and more. It’s a structured way to help us all work smarter – not harder – together on behalf of Mississippi’s children. 

Forum for the Future was created by three organizations – the Mississippi Early Learning Alliance (MELA), the System’s Change Lab of MSU’s Social Sciences Research Center (SSRC), and the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi. These organizations formed the original backbone of this project, using a collective impact framework to structure the work and collaboration. Currently, the MELA is responsible for keeping this movement organized and progressing toward the 2030 goal, with support from the SSRC partners.