Beginning in 2003, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation engaged Full Court Press Communications to provide media relations and communications support to promote voluntary, universal preschool education in California. The Foundation asked FCP to help its grantees communicate more effectively about the importance and impact of preschool education.
From the onset, FCP understood that in order to increase support for preschool education, grantees needed to talk about more than just California’s moral obligation to help children. They also needed to explain why preschool education made economic sense. After all, providing preschool to all of California’s children is a large investment. FCP crafted a communications plan that included all grantees. We also helped release four RAND reports on the economics of investing in universal preschool. From these massive reports, FCP worked with grantees to ensure that the economic payback numbers – $2.62 for every dollar invested in universal preschool by the public sector – were woven into the fabric of the statewide conversation. Finally, we convened a first-of-its-kind conference at UC Berkeley for national and state education reporters to help them understand the crucial link between preschool enrollment and success in school and life.
Thanks to focused, consistent messaging by all of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation grantees, the conversation about universal preschool was transformed in California. Opinion leaders and Californians viewed universal preschool not as a costly burden, but as a necessary investment. Additionally, grantees increasingly became trusted voices for educating civic and community leaders on the value of investing in children.