Skip to main content

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker Celebrates Collaboration in Early Childhood Education With DuPage Foundation’s Bright & Early DuPage Initiative

A celebration of collaboration and impact in early childhood education took place with Governor JB Pritzker on Friday, February 9, at Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley in Villa Park, IL.

For more than a decade, DuPage Foundation’s Bright & Early DuPage (B&ED) initiative has led DuPage County communities in building systems to ensure young children and their families have the resources needed to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.

Governor Pritzker’s focus on the Birth to Five Illinois early childhood program and Smart Start Illinois funding has created a statewide infrastructure providing equitable access to inclusive, high-quality early childhood services for all children and families in Illinois and has bolstered the work being done through B&ED.

The impact of local collaboratives building bridges and providing equitable, accessible early childhood programs was highlighted by the Governor, who also talked about making Illinois the best in the nation in all early intervention and childhood services.

In addition to Governor Pritzker, the following community leaders spoke at the press conference: Theresa Forthofer, president and CEO, Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley; Dulce Maria Quintero, secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services; Mike Sitrick, president & CEO, DuPage Foundation; Sarah O’Donnell, CEO, Tri-Town YMCA; Luke Bazack, a local parent; Nick Cuzzone, president, Village of Villa Park; and Jenn Ladisch Douglass, state representative for Illinois’ 45th District.

B&ED seeks to ensure that all children in DuPage County have access to the resources and education they need to thrive in Kindergarten and beyond. With the help of donors and community partners, DuPage Foundation created a $6 million permanent endowment to support early childhood and invested in bringing together local schools, government, businesses, and community organizations to start addressing these issues collaboratively.

I’m thrilled to share that to date we have granted nearly $3 million to provide seed funding and ongoing support for eight local early childhood collaboratives in DuPage to address the barriers and needs within their respective communities,” said Mike Sitrick, president & CEO, DuPage Foundation. “Collaborative partners work diligently to establish the trust of parents, and their efforts have resulted in thousands of area kids and their families accessing vital resources and participating in life-changing education activities.”

The power of individual entities providing services in their areas of expertise and working collaboratively has increased the number of early childhood programs available through our communities and has engaged more parents in the care and education of their children. 

Several communities with early childhood collaboratives have received new or increased State funding to support early childhood seats for programs such as Head Start, Early Head Start, Preschool for All, and Early Intervention, and several school districts have either built new early childhood centers or expanded existing ones to better meet the needs of our children. Working collaboratively, communities have been able to illustrate the need for these programs, which is a key component of this success. 

Early childhood collaboratives have also focused heavily on engaging parents to meet their individual needs. Collaborative partners offer myriad education programs and activities for parents, and work side-by-side with them to ensure that they understand and have access to the many vital resources and opportunities that are available. 

“It’s local collaboratives that build bridges and fill the gaps between resources and the people who need them the most,” said Governor Pritzker. “That’s exactly why we are all grateful that DuPage Foundation, a longtime champion for children, established the Bright & Early DuPage initiative, providing grant funding to local community organizations to help establish, build, and maintain early childhood collaboratives. To the DuPage Foundation team, thank you for continuing your investment in early childhood. We are making real progress and we couldn’t have done it so far without you, and we need you going forward.”

To learn more about Bright & Early DuPage, visit

Watch the press conference here.

Powered by Firespring