Mississippi Forum for the Future

A Collective Impact Initiative

Imagine what we could do for Mississippi children and families if…

We focus our attention on one big goal: improving the childcare system in our state.

We leverage the work of many organizations and advocates to work smarter, not harder.

We keep the voices and perspectives of childcare providers and parents at the center of our work.

We speak with one voice to push for policies and practices that set children up for lifelong success.

We know that big change is possible if we work together. Mississippi Forum for the Future was created to convene experts, practitioners, and community members not just to recommend a better path forward, but to build one together.

Image reads: “GOAL: By 2030, Mississippi’s childcare system will be state-of-the-art, fueled by robust data, resources, and cross-sector collaboration to meet the needs of all children & families

Forum for the Future is a movement to transform the childcare system in Mississippi. More specifically, it’s a collective impact initiative designed to help early childhood organizations, business leaders, and policymakers break down silos and leverage our combined efforts, resources, and expertise to build a state-of-the-art childcare system that meets the needs of all children and families in Mississippi.

The success of this movement will be driven by the continued guidance, participation, and support of the many organizations working on behalf of children across the state, as well as the involvement of parents, business owners, elected officials, researchers, and more. 

Forum for the Future was created by three organizations – the Mississippi Early Learning Alliance, the Children’s Foundation of Mississippi, and the Child Health and Development Project: Mississippi Thrive!. These organizations formed the original backbone of this project, using a collective impact framework to structure the work and collaboration. The Mississippi Early Learning Alliance is responsible for keeping this movement organized and progressing toward the 2030 goal. 

The Collective Impact Framework

Collective Impact is a proven framework that helps organizations and individuals work together in a structured way in to produce social change. It’s designed to break down silos and maximize each organization’s or individual’s efforts. Successful collective impact initiatives typically have the following five conditions:

A Common Agenda
Everyone shares a common understanding of the problem and commits to a shared vision
and approach.

Shared Measurement Systems
Everyone tracks progress in same way, using common data indicators
to measure success.

Mutually Reinforcing Activities
Everyone plays their own role, but our coordinated efforts fit into a larger
plan of action.

Continuous Communication
Consistent and open communication builds trust and keeps everyone on
the same page.

Backbone Support
One team is dedicated to keeping the work organized and moving forward. Maintaining momentum isn’t left
up to chance.

Forum for the Future Infrastructure

Steering Committee

The steering committee is responsible for helping refine the vision of Forum for the Future, track progress effectively, and expand the reach and impact of this movement. Members help define the scope of the overall initiative, provide strategic direction, determine measures of success, and champion our work to others. Members are listed below – all are dynamic individuals who have the skills and capacity to act in bold and innovative ways. They are well-positioned to inspire others to action, disrupt the status quo, and transform the early care and education system in Mississippi.

 The Steering Committee’s first task is to define what we mean by “state-of-the-art.”

  • Billy Crews
    University of Mississippi School of Education
  • Dr. LaTasha Hadley
    Loving Hands Educational Services, LLC
  • Pastor Eric Lee
    Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church, Little Saints Academy
  • Dr. Jeff Leffler
    MSU Meridian Division of Education
  • Cathy Northington
    Mississippi Economic Council
  • Tamara Smith
    Director of Early Childhood at Midtown Partners, Inc.
  • Tonya Ware
    ReadyNation, Council for a Strong America

Working Groups

Working groups are the implementation teams within a collective impact initiative. These groups complete specific projects that will move us closer to our long-term goal. Working groups form in response to a specific need, then dissolve when that need has been met.

Forum for the Future’s Guiding Principles

Forum for the Future’s three backbone organizations committed to six core principles to guide our work. The principles are designed to help us create the right conditions to work effectively with current and future partners. The principles help guide the entire process, including who should be involved with different aspects of the work, how decisions are made, and success is defined. 

Trust the Process

  • Establish and celebrate realistic and meaningful benchmarks.  
  • Commit to providing continuous and transparent communication about our work and progress, both within the group and to the public.
  • Practice patience and understand that change happens over time.

Balance Power

  • Consciously redistribute power and create with others, not for them.
  • Elevate the voices of parents, caregivers, and direct service providers. Intentionally seek their input and recognize it as expertise.
  • Understand that the best solutions require the contributions of people from diverse backgrounds and divergent points of view.

Dismantle Inequities

  • Make inequities visible. Our public systems (education, healthcare, criminal justice, housing, etc.) were not created to produce equal outcomes or experiences for everyone. These structures – past and present – maintain inequity by design.
  • Be bold. It takes bold leadership to redesign unjust systems and catalyze positive change.

Overcome Mistrust

  • Make space to understand, connect and build meaningful relationships. Treat all project members and partners with respect and kindness.
  • Assume good intent, but acknowledge the missteps and wrongdoings of the past.
  • Understand that trust is not declared, it is
    co-constructed over time.

Resist False Dichotomies

  • Seek a third way.
  • Embrace respectful conflict and understand that effective solutions will be created collaboratively and with compromise.

Own the Work

  • Share and maximize our resources.
  • Avoid competition for funding, public attention, or spheres of influence.
  • Avoid duplicating efforts.
  • Understand that this work is not intended to exist as a separate scope of work. It is intended to enhance and align the work our organizations already do.
  • Use shared language to describe the work.

Click the button to view a list of our current supporters and partners. We’ll keep adding to this list as we gain momentum!

Contact us to learn more or get involved!