Reflections on the Forum for the Future Summit

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A note from the Mississippi Early Learning Alliance’s Executive Director, Biz Harris

As I drove home to Laurel after the Forum for the Future Summit, I was buzzing with excitement. Being together with so many people, both long-time partners and new connections, who are willing to give their time and energy to help make Mississippi’s childcare system state-of-the-art made me feel beyond energized. Two-thirds of our Summit attendees provide direct services through childcare and after-school programming. I am incredibly grateful to them for spending a day with us during one of the year’s busiest seasons. To all our summit attendees: your perspectives and voices have shaped every step of Forum For the Future’s work, and we know we cannot succeed without you! THANK YOU for joining us at the Summit, trusting us with your ideas, concerns, and questions, and fiercely advocating for children, families, and early educators. As part of the backbone of Forum for the Future, it’s our role to give you space to do your best thinking, then amplify your voices and expertise to drive positive change. We can’t wait to continue working with you!

I am inspired and grateful to see how many of you signed up to give even more time to join one of the three new working groups. The Summit was just the beginning! If you agree to join a working group, your co-chairs will contact you soon with the following steps and meeting dates. If you did not give us your contact information to sign up for a working group at the Summit, please use this online form to join a group. 

As I reflect on the Summit, I am both proud and honored by the collaborative nature of the event. It was truly a labor of love between multiple organizations and leaders. While MELA coordinated the overall logistics, we are privileged to have six co-chairs representing five different organizations share their extensive expert knowledge and experience. The working group co-chairs put in a tremendous amount of thought and effort to prepare and facilitate their sessions, and we’re excited to have them on board to help us move toward our 2030 goal. Our additional speakers brought such valuable insight and perspectives to the event and to each working group. Last but certainly not least, the data team from Mississippi State University’s Social Science Research Center did an excellent job helping us understand where we are now and how to measure the progress we’ll make moving forward.

Thank you for being a part of what made the Summit such an amazing experience. We have miles to go before we sleep to reach our goal of a state-of-the-art childcare and early education system, but by working together, we will go far.


  • Download a PDF of key slides from the Summit, which describe the purpose of Forum for the Future, define what we mean by a “state-of-the-art childcare system,” explain the requirements and benefits of membership in Forum for the Future, and summarize the three working groups. 
  • Find resources from our keynote speaker, Executive Director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children Dr. Libbie Sonnier, on the LPIC website: This website includes an “Economic Impact Calculator for Businesses,” a tool that helps determine the total annual financial loss to a business caused by childcare issues.
  • If you’d like to be a member of Forum for the Future, make sure to sign up online using the button below!


  • If you signed up to be part of a working group, you’ll receive an email from the working group co-chairs about specific next steps. 
  • A Forum for the Future website is coming soon!
  • Keep an eye out for more news and updates about Forum for the Future from the Mississippi Early Learning Alliance. We plan provide a public update about working group progress in 4-5 months. In the meantime, let us know how we can improve future events and meetings by taking our short Summit Evaluation Survey.