April 2017 Newsletter


Boston Basics News

Week of the Young Child 2017
The Boston Basics Campaign is excited to be working with partners to celebrate the Week of the Young Child (WOYC), April 24-28. This week is part of a national campaign led annually by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. It is a celebration of early learning, young children, and families.

We’ll be shining a light on what babies need to learn and the great work of partners around the city. To support these efforts, the Boston Basics is offering a downloadable partner toolkit with easy ways to get involved: bostonbasics.org. We are building momentum by collaborating with allies and raising awareness about the critical importance of the first three years.


Join in the WOYC campaign on the Boston Basics Facebook feed! We are working towards creating a hub for conversation about how babies learn, and sharing tips on using the Boston Basics in everyday moments. We invite you to view the Editorial Calendar for sample posts and inspiration. Combine campaign hashtags: #WOYC17  #DoBasics  #ThinkBasics



Planting the Seeds for Early Learning


The Pediatric Department at Boston Medical Center is thrilled to partner with Boston Basics. The creative approach Boston Basics has developed…will allow us to focus health care on the whole child.

--Bob Vinci, M.D., Chief of Pediatrics, BMC

Every day, Rachel Hoch helps usher new babies into the world as a nurse practitioner in Boston Medical Center's MotherBaby Unit. She monitors and supports newborns and their families throughout their hospital stay.

Before moms and babies are discharged from the hospital, Rachel instructs families on a number of topics and helps them know what to expect. Since last summer, she has been sharing the Boston Basics in these conversations, and says her role is to “plant the seed” for the Boston Basics.

“I always talk about brain growth and that 80% of brain growth happens in the first three years—which is the perfect intro to the Basics,” says Rachel. She tries to show each family at least one of the videos, often in Spanish or Haitian Creole.

Nurse Hoch encourages moms and visitors to share the videos and website with their family and friends, finding that “the videos always bring smiles to everyone’s faces.” After watching, parents usually raise issues or questions about what they’ve seen. When older siblings are present, Rachel loves to talk to them about their “important job” of reading to the new baby. BMC is also distributing Boston Basics materials to nursing mothers through its weekly Baby Café.

Hospital leaders are looking into additional ways of spreading the Basics. Bob Vinci, Chief of Pediatrics, says, “The Pediatric Department at Boston Medical Center is thrilled to partner with Boston Basics. The creative approach Boston Basics has developed will improve child health by emphasizing a nurturing and stimulating environment. Our health care system will integrate their core principles into our clinical model and in doing so, will allow us to focus health care on the whole child.”



  • Week of the Young Child (Apr 24-28): Participate during this week by liking the Boston Basics on Facebook and sharing our posts with the parents and caregivers in your life.
  • Easily share the Boston Basics videos with your patients or clients by streaming them on an iPad or smartphone.
  • Older children can make a big difference in the lives of their little siblings and cousins by doing the Basics – they can read a book or play with them!


Did you know that babies start to recognize the sounds of language before they are born? Research on the infant brain and language development by Patricia Kuhl and her colleagues at the University of Washington, shows that developing babies are engaged listeners. Newborns can even detect the difference between their mother’s native language and other languages.

Babies also prefer the sound of their mother’s voice – just from listening in utero. Beginning with the earliest moments, babies are listening and learning from the people around them. The more we talk, sing, and point, the more we provide them with brain-building learning opportunities.

View Dr. Kuhl’s TED Talk “The Linguistic Genius of Babies.” 
Video Updates
  • Our videos are now available in Haitian Creole. Special thanks to the MIT-Haiti Initiative for support with translation and narration! Watch the videos here.
The Boston Basics are 5 fun, easy, and powerful ways that every family can give each child a great start in life.

November 2016 Newsletter


Welcome to the first issue of the Boston Basics Broadcast!

This is an update to share lessons and accomplishments of the Boston Basics Campaign. There’s a lot to share!

This Issue:

Why You Should Join Us

The Boston Basics Campaign (BBC) is inspired by the fact that 80% of brain growth happens during the first three years. Even by age two, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic skill gaps are clearly apparent. This does not need to be!

Fortunately, science points to “the Basics,” five clusters of parenting and caregiving practices for helping children thrive mentally and emotionally, starting from birth. The Campaign's 60+ community partners are working arm in arm to ensure that every parent and caregiver is fully supported by family and friends to use the Basics.

This is an authentic public-private partnership. The founding partners are:
  • the Black Philanthropy Fund,
  • the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University,
  • the Mayor of Boston and his Education Cabinet,
  • WGBH Public Broadcasting, and
  • the Pediatrics Department at Boston Medical Center.
These founders are joined by a growing community of enthusiastic partners.

We recognize that there are many excellent, established groups working with the families of young children. Our strategy provides science-based tools for these organizations to use in the normal course of doing their business. The doctors, ministers, teachers, childcare providers, librarians, barbers, and housing representatives from our many partner institutions who touch the lives of parents and caregivers can make the Basics second-nature in households throughout Boston.

Do You Know the Basics?


Mayor Walsh Hosted the Boston Basics Kickoff

On Tuesday, September 13, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh hosted a highly successful kickoff celebration at the Boston Children’s Museum. More than 80 guests attended. The event delivered on a promise that the Mayor offered when he first heard about the Basics. As he recounted it to the audience, he had gotten “really excited” and interrupted after only about three minutes to say, "You’ve already sold me.” He told the audience that “the Boston Basics has come along at exactly the right time. We can make a big difference!” View a video of the Mayor's remarks.

During the program, guests heard from campaign founders and several partners about what the Boston Basics Campaign has achieved during its kickoff phase and where it’s headed.

Carole Charnow, President and CEO of the Boston Children’s Museum, described how the Museum is already contributing by distributing materials in its PlaySpace and hosting BBC trainings. She anticipated publicizing the Campaign to hundreds of thousands of people who visit the Museum’s website every year.

Two representatives from Partners HealthCare spoke about the ways that affiliated hospitals have embraced the Boston Basics.

First, Elsie Taveras, Chief of Academic Pediatrics at Mass General Hospital for Children, described innovative ways that the First 1000 Days Program has integrated the Boston Basics into its curriculum for new mothers. The program covers pregnancy through the baby’s second birthday. Parents will receive BBC messages both online and through text messages.

Next, Wanda McClain, Vice President of Community Health and Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, spoke about ways that the hospital is integrating BBC resources and messages into its Centering Pregnancy program for pregnant women.

Mayor Walsh was so inspired he approached the podium a second time to restate his enthusiastic commitment to the Boston Basics Campaign.  He said that he expects attendance, grades, test scores, and graduation rates will all rise in Boston because of the BBC.
Jeff Howard of the Black Philanthropy Fund introduces Mayor Walsh.
Dr. Elsie Tavares of Mass General for Children describes the hospital's role in the BBC.
BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang and Leslie Swartz of the Children's Museum confer after the BBC presentation.

New Resources: Spanish Videos

The Basics toolkit is expanding with more and more ways of helping parents and caregivers.

Explaining and modeling the Basics on video is a core part of the strategy. Last summer, the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard worked with WGBH to produce the first set of six campaign videos. These videos along with booklets in English and Spanish are available on the

Brand new videos featuring Spanish speaking families are now available! Watch them here.

We'll let you know when materials in other languages are available.

Featured Partners: Ministers are Sermonizing!

Two pioneering congregations, Bethel AME and Lion of Judah, are leading the way in the faith-based community. Here’s some of what’s happening.
Reverend Ray Hammond, of Bethel AME built his Mother’s Day sermon around the Biblical story of Moses. Jochebed, Moses’ mother, prepared a basket so that it would not sink. Then she placed the newborn Moses inside and released it in reeds along the banks of the Nile River. Reverend Hammond told the congregation that every parent someday has to cast their children “into the river of life.”

He told them, “Place the child in something that will float and keep them clean in the midst of a dirty river; wrap them in a covering warm enough to keep off the chill of this cold world; seal them with a substance to repel the waters that will  creep in and sink them. And just as surely as Jochebed did this, you and I as mothers and fathers must do the same for our children.”

Reverend Hammond said “the Boston Basics provide practical ways” to help children and grandchildren get a good start in life. He explained that gaps between groups develop by the age of two, but “it doesn’t have to be that way.” He defined each of the Basics and the reasons they matter. Listen to the sermon
Reverend Roberto Miranda is the senior pastor for Boston’s Lion of Judah congregation. For each of two church services on September 11, 2016—one in English and one in Spanish—he introduced Harvard’s Ron Ferguson to talk about the Boston Basics and to invite participation. Reverend Miranda told the congregation, “God doesn’t do all the work by doing everything himself. He works through us. If we want our children to have [great lives] and vitality, we have to do our parts. We are anointed by God as parents—we have authority from the Lord—but now we have to do our part. … The human brain is the most amazing organism in the universe.” He suggested that the BBC is something essential for the church to be involved with. View this part of the service here.

Following Ferguson’s remarks, congregants watched a Boston Basics video. Then Associate Pastor Mercedes Lopez-Miranda spoke about the importance of early childhood parenting, based on her career as an early-intervention specialist. View her remarks here in
English or here in Spanish

After each service, there was a lot activity around the Boston Basics information table. Many signed up to express interest or to register for workshops, the first of which was held in Spanish on Saturday, September 24th and was a great success.
Lion of Judah congregation watches a Boston Basics video in Spanish.
That's it for this issue. Thanks for helping us spread the word!

We need your support! The Boston Basics Campaign is a citywide public-private partnership paid for by contributions from the residents, businesses, and other institutions of Boston. You can contribute by making checks payable to the Black Philanthropy Fund and mailing them to The Boston Foundation, 75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116.

Or, you can contribute online by credit card to: www.tbf.org/giving/make-a-gift/general-form. Enter Black Philanthropy Fund on the Fund Name Line.

Copyright © 2016 Boston Basics, All rights reserved.


The Boston Basics Campaign has launched!

The Boston Basics are five scientifically well-established ways to promote brain development from birth to age three, packaged in a form that every parent, caregiver, family member, friend or citizen can use and share. This type of support for early brain growth is a key to the stimulating start in life that all infants and toddlers deserve. It is the foundation of kindergarten readiness. So encourage your church, your doctor, your employer, and other organizations to promote the Boston Basics routinely as a family-support responsibility.

Please register on this site to join the Community. Then watch the videos, download the materials, and help spread the message. Let’s saturate the city! On behalf of the founding organizations, we look forward to an impactful journey together with you to establish the Boston Basics as universal childrearing practices beginning from birth.

Yours truly,

Jeff Howard, Chair, the Black Philanthropy Fund

Ron Ferguson, Faculty Director, the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University

Rahn Dorsey, Chief, Boston Mayor’s Education Cabinet

Barry Zuckerman, Past Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Boston Medical Center

Jon Abbott, President and CEO, WGBH Public Broadcasting

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