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: Enter Black Philanthropy Fund on the Fund Name Line.

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