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Early Childhood Education: Small Students, Big Returns

edLast week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released his much-anticipated preliminary budget.  As promised, he earmarked $530 million for universal pre-kindergarten (classroom programs for children under six). The commitment is expected to make pre-kindergarten the “centerpiece” of de Blasio’s first term.

But de Blasio is not alone in his support of early childhood education. Shortly after his inauguration, President Obama invested $10 billion in the cause via the 2009 stimulus package. He also expressed a desire to expand pre-kindergarten (with or without congress) in last month’s State of the Union address.

Indeed, early childhood education is “having a moment” in the United States. But is it warranted? Does formal education for young children actually produce significant beneficial effects?

A vast – and growing – body of research suggests “yes”. Early education promotes the formation of neural pathways in young minds, when they are most receptive to learning. Such pathways allow children to develop key academic, social, and cognitive skills. In this way, early childhood education increases student confidence and school readiness.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children
The benefits of early childhood education also persist over time. According to longitudinal studies, children who participate in early education programs demonstrate higher academic achievement, reduced grade repetition and drop-outs, and higher social and emotional functioning as teenagers. They also enjoy higher productivity, increased earning potential, and thus, greater self-sufficiency as adults. For these reasons, the estimated return on investment of early childhood education is $3 to $16 for every $1 spent.

But there is a key caveat. For early childhood education to have maximal impact, the programs must be high-quality. In other words, they must be well-designed and taught by top-rate teachers. Unfortunately, only 20 US states require all pre-kindergarten teachers to hold bachelor degrees. Furthermore, teachers with degrees are less inclined to work in early childhood education, as the pay is often lower. As a result, experts maintain that many pre-kindergarten teachers are poorly trained, particularly in age-appropriate strategies for teaching math and literacy.

Thus, funding for early childhood education should aim to do more than broaden access. It should also strive to produce better teachers, curricula, and teaching approaches. With a few tweaks, de Blasio and Obama’s proposed initiatives could produce such outcomes (as in New Jersey). However, private actors—such as non-profits and foundations—could also play an instrumental role.

To learn more about early childhood education, please click here. To support the cause, please donate to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Children’s Defense Fund, or our partners, Junior Achievement and the Newmarket Community Education Partnership.

Flickr Photo Credit: Eric Costello

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Op4G is Attending the 2014 Washington Nonprofit Conference

washington dcDespite the imminent snowstorm, Op4G is on it’s way to Washington DC February 13th and 14th to join hundreds of fundraising and marketing professionals at the Washington Nonprofit Conference. This is a two-day event where we will exchange innovative marketing and fundraising ideas, generate insightful solutions and think creatively to help better serve our Non Profit partners.

We are happy to be a part of a gathering that will be the platform for improving public awareness and receptivity to direct and interactive market driven philanthropy.

We’d also love to meet up with current and prospective partners. Please shoot us an email at support@op4g.com to schedule a time to chat.

Looking forward to seeing everyone there.

 

Flickr Photo Credit

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$200 Sweepstakes for people living in the Seacoast New Hampshire Region

new hampshireOp4G has an interesting Music and Arts survey now available for people living in the Seacoast New Hampshire Region.  The survey pays $2.00 per completion.  In addition, each person who completes the survey will be eligible for a one time $200 sweepstakes.  To get started, just enter the survey here.

If you qualify and complete today’s study you will be entered into a prize drawing for a $200 Visa Gift Card. Op4G will administer the prize drawing. The winner will receive notice shortly after the study closes. An email address needs to be provided in order to be eligible for the prize drawing. Your email address will be stored securely by Op4G and will NOT be made available to any third party marketers. Thanks in advance for your participation.

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Melting Away? The Future of the Winter Olympic Games

winter olympicsThis weekend, the 2014 Winter Olympics will launch in Sochi, Russia. The event will involve 2800 athletes competing in 15 disciplines. It will also air in over 200 countries to an audience of 3.8 billion people, making it one of the largest cultural celebrations on earth.

But Winter Olympics in places like Sochi may soon be a thing of the past. In fact, according to a report from the University of Waterloo, only 11 of the 19 winter Olympic cities could reliably host the games by 2050. This number drops to only 6 cities (or less than 1/3) by the end of the century.

The culprit is climate change. The IPCC projects that the average February temperatures of the winter Olympic cities will rise by 1.9 – 2.1° Celsius by 2050 and 2.7 – 4.4° Celsius by 2100. As a result, many of the cities will lack the necessary conditions for Olympic events in over 25% of winters. These conditions, as defined by the University of Waterloo, are a snowpack of 30+ cm at high elevations and daily minimum temperatures below 0° Celsius (allowing snow and ice surfaces to recover from daytime melt).

The reality has forced “Olympic organizing committees, sporting federations, and the IOC to continually develop and refine strategies to reduce the risks of adverse weather”. Current strategies include scaling up snowmaking machines, refrigerating bobsled and luge tracks, moving events indoors, and stockpiling snow. But future strategies may include more extreme measures, such as cloud seeding (or spraying silver iodide into the atmosphere to encourage precipitation). Popular skiing destinations in Idaho and Nevada are already using the practice to increase snowpack.

However, in the words of Daniel Scott, an associate professor at Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment, “There are limits to what current weather risk management strategies can cope with. By the middle of this century, these limits will be surpassed in some former Winter Olympic host regions.”

Thus, a more dependable solution is to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions and curb climate change. For its part, the International Olympic Committee has “amended the Olympic Charter to include a binding commitment to sustainable development”. It has also worked with host cities to mitigate and offset emissions (e.g. through energy efficient infrastructure, reforestation etc). Now, the 200+ Olympic member nations must show similar dedication, both through national and international actions. Otherwise, we may need to start preparing for North Pole 2090.

To learn more about climate change and its impacts, please contact the Climate Reality Project, 350.org, or the Citizens Climate Lobby.
Flickr Photo Credit

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Waiting to Inhale: Air Pollution a Problem at Home and Abroad

smoke2In mid-January, air pollution in Beijing, China reached an alarming level. According to the municipal government, Beijing’s air contained 500 micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic meter.This is 20 times the level recommended by the World Health Organization and almost twice the level deemed “hazardous” by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In fact, the pollution was so debilitating that Beijing authorities closed 4 major highways in the Chinese capital. They pledged to cut coal use by 2.6 million tonnes and to prohibit all heavily polluting vehicles by December 31. And, perhaps most controversially, they threatened to ban fireworks displays in honor of Chinese New Year.

But while Beijing’s air pollution has received disproportionate media cover (including a viral story about televised sunrises), it isn’t the only city facing this environmental problem. Indeed, several cities in Iran, Pakistan, and India report comparable–or worse–air pollution levels. North American cities are not immune either. Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley are notorious for smog, caused by vehicle emissions, manufacturing, and farming. Furthermore, despite significant improvements over the last 50 years, Pittsburgh continues to register high pollution levels due to coal combustion and heavy industry.

coalition for clean air2
The effects of this pollution are hard to swallow. Studies indicate that high concentrations of air pollution can trigger irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; as well as coughing and wheezing. It can exacerbate heart and lung problems, including asthma. And, after long-term exposure, it can increase the risk of cancer and mortality. Consequently, experts maintain that Alleghany County (home of Pittsburgh) is in the top 2% for cancer risk in the United States. They also estimate that the life expectancy in Beijing is 5 – 6 years lower than in China’s southern cities.

The environmental effects of air pollution are troubling as well. Sulfur and nitrogen oxides contribute to acid rain and eutrophication, impacting biodiversity. Chlorofluorocarbons and halons accelerate the depletion of the protective ozone layer. Toxic pollutants lead to reproductive problems and disease in animals and aquatic life. And greenhouse gases trap solar radiation, causing climate change.

These human and environmental effects compel us to act. As individuals, we can reduce our emissions by conserving energy, recycling, and limiting vehicle use. But a large-scale reduction in air pollution will require “much wider policies by national and international authorities”. The recent announcements in China are encouraging, as are the EPA’s efforts to implement a Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and a New Source Performance Standard (to limit CO2 emissions). Society must continue to demand such actions, and ensure their realization. Then we can all breathe a little easier.

For more information on air pollution, please contact the Clean Air Task Force, the Coalition for Clean Air, Breathe LA, or our partners, Clean Air Cool Planet and the American Lung Association in California.

Flickr Photo Credit: Kim Seng

 

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(Op4G) Trusted Insights Team Expands in North America

Ryan StoudtPORTSMOUTH, N.H., Feb. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — “It is a pleasure to have Ryan assume this role as we continue to grow our client service team and meet our philanthropic goals to the Non-Profits that support our panel. (Frank Hayden, Chief Operating Officer.)

US-based charity-focused panel specialist Op4G (Opinions 4 Good) has appointed Ryan Stoudt as Senior Director, Client Development. Ryan assumes responsibilities for assisting revenue growth focused on the West Coast. With more than 5 years of sales and marketing experience, Stoudt’s focus is developing strong partnerships with many of the top market research companies in the industry, applying his in-depth consultative knowledge. Prior to joining Op4G, Stoudt held a similar role at Toluna.

Founded in 2010, Op4G invites its panel members – non-profit donors, fundraisers and volunteers – to participate in paid online research surveys, and then donate a portion of their income to one or more of its 390 plus registered non-profits.

Op4G provides client access to a unique database of highly qualified leaders and engaged members who participate in internet-based research for the opportunity to earn funds for themselves and/or to donate up to 100% of their earnings directly to one of our partnering charities. Since beginning client delivery in June 2011 our clients’ incentive funds have allowed our panel members to donate over $350,000 to our growing number of non profits. Panel member trust is the key to our quality data. Each element of Op4G is designed to fiercely protect our Members’ privacy. Every activity is opt-in, every survey participant is anonymous, and every member is in full control of their secure information.

To learn more about our client services or how to begin a partnership that benefits your charity, please contact support(at)Op4G(dot)com or visit http://www.Op4G.com

Media Contact: Frank Nappo, Opinions 4 Good, 603-766-5858

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: Click Here

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Op4G’s Member of the Month: Laura Varon Brown!

Op4G’s Member of the Month is Laura Varon Brown, Executive Director of Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit!

Laura joined the Op4G panel in 2013 to earn additional funds for Gilda’s Club. As Executive Director, she knew the Club would use the funds to deliver essential support programs to individuals and families facing cancer.

Reflecting on the Op4G model, Laura describes it as a “seamless” way to engage in philanthropy. She also praises Op4G’s screening process, which ensures that she only completes surveys for which she qualifies. Finally, she hails the flexibility of Op4G, allowing her to complete surveys at her convenience.

But Laura isn’t the only Op4G champion at Gilda’s Club. Her social media and development staff are also members and frequently encourage Club supporters to register. As a result, Gilda’s Club has earned over $837 through Op4G!

Congratulations Laura and Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit!