The NCSL Blog


By Alison May

The Early Learning Fellows program has been supporting legislators and legislative staff members since 2011 who are experienced or emerging leaders on early learning issues. We are pleased to continue with our sixth year of the Early Learning Fellows Program.

The Early Learning Fellows Program is designed for those chairing or serving on human services, education or appropriation committees who want to expand their knowledge and learn from other legislators and experts across the country about early childhood development and early childhood education policy options. The program allows selected participants to:

  • Build their knowledge about new research and policy innovations.
  • Participate in the exchange of ideas and solutions related to early learning, the opportunity gap, and many other issues.
  • Meet, connect and learn from other legislative leaders.
  • Identify action steps as part of a practical early learning plan for immediate use in their state.
  • Receive the exclusive opportunity to speak with and learn from leading researchers and policy experts.

Since inception NCSL has accepted approximately 150 participants into the Fellows Program.

Representative Donny C. Lamberth (R-N.C.)Representative Donny C. Lambeth (R-N.C.) was an Early Learning Fellow in 2015. "Rarely does participation in a training program have a significantly profound impact on the work in which I am involved," he said.

"However, my experiences with the Early Learning Fellowship Program did just that. The information presented positively affected the way in which I think about early learning for children from birth to school years. The program provided new tools and proven models of success which, when applied, will assist educators in my state build a positive foundation for children who need the most support. I highly recommend this program to other legislators who are looking for innovative and proven methods of success in learning.”

Representative Mary Gile (D-N.H.)Representative Mary Gile (D-N.H.), a member of the inaugural class in 2011, said, “The NCSL Early Learning Fellows Program provided opportunities to learn about cutting edge research and best practices in early childhood education from experts in academia and public school districts.

Meetings and webinars offered stimulating, inspiring and affirming information from both theoretical and practical perspectives. I especially appreciated meeting and working with legislative colleagues from across the nation.” Read additional quotes from alumni of the program on our website.

Selected 2017 fellows commit to participate in two face-to-face meetings this summer and fall and two webinars in July and August.

Fellows will hear from leading experts and researchers on the economic returns on investing in the early years, the science of early brain development, the critical role of early math skills, and other state policy and financing innovations to support young children and their parents.

In addition, fellows will tour Educare of Omaha, a high-quality, center-based early childhood program. Webinars will cover state preschool programs and dual language learners. Early Learning Fellows will have the opportunity to develop a concrete plan of action steps to take back to their state for implementation.

NCSL’s Early Learning Fellows Program is made possible by grants from the Alliance for Early Success, Buffett Early Childhood Fund, and Heising-Simons Foundation. Be sure to visit our website for updated information including details about our six-step application and selection process. Specific questions about the program can be emailed to Alison May.

Alison May is a staff coordinator in NCSL’s Children and Families program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.