October 8, 2014
JACKSON, Miss. –A decade ago it was the first of its kind pilot program, launched in four Mississippi cities. Today, Excel by 5 has grown to 34 communities which are focused on improving early learning for Mississippi children ages 0-5.
The success of the group has been largely due to the involvement of parents and others in the community, according to President Nadine Coleman, “Coming from the community level gives ownership to the community and I think that’s critical in our early childhood efforts.”
The group celebrated its 10th Anniversary during a conference Tuesday in Jackson. Rich Harwood, a nationally-renowned expert on transforming communities and Founder and President of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, served as the keynote speaker. “Each one of you and the folks you work with in your community represent the best of American builders. We are all builders in this room,” he said. “The question is how do we accelerate what you are doing… and to get more people on (this path).”
Harwood told the group that there is no easy answer, but there are practical steps that can be taken. “We need to start by focusing on our shared aspirations – what we can agree on, and not what divides us. We also need to spend more time talking about our shared responsibilities can create can-do narratives to show examples of people uniting to work for the common good.”