Savannah Early Childhood Foundation

All Children Ready At School Age

Our Mission

A novel solution for all of Savannah…

Photographer: Nuno SerranoThe challenge:

As a community, Savannah has devoted resources for decades to address persistent cyclical problems of crime, poverty, poor educational outcomes, teen pregnancy, truancy and juvenile delinquency. These challenges are multigenerational and disproportionate by race. And while they are felt most acutely in certain neighborhoods, the damaging cycle they create impacts our entire community. We know this cycle starts early. But what is the best way to break it?

By the Numbers:

  • 26.6% of Savannah residents live below poverty level[1]
  • 33.1% of Savannah children under age 18 live in poverty[2]
  • 31.2% of Savannah-Chatham County Public School students fail to complete high school[3]
  • Teen pregnancy rates in Chatham County are higher than the state average – 27.1 in Chatham County vs. 22.4 statewide, per 1,000 births – and these rates are far higher within local Black (31.8) and Hispanic (38.8) communities.[4]
  • In 2013, Savannah-Chatham Metro Police arrested 558 youth age 16 or younger – 58% of those arrests were young black males.[5]
  • 80% of Georgia’s prison population is made up of high school dropouts.[6]

Photographer: Nuno SerranoThe solution:

A multi-year research effort by the Savannah Early Childhood Foundation (SECF) pinpointed an area ripe for intervention, where the potential for impact was great but community resources were lacking: early childhood development. In cooperation with a wide range of public and private sector partners, we developed a groundbreaking new model to reach children in high-risk neighborhoods in the first two to three years of life, when science indicates the most critical brain development occurs and individuals learn the fundamental skills to help them succeed in life. We do this by offering a proven training and enrichment program called Early Learning College for each child’s very first teachers – their parents, empowering parents with the skills they need to create a safe, nurturing, language-rich environment for the infants and toddlers in their life.

Photographer: Nuno SerranoThe potential:

SECF has developed a novel, financially-viable, parent-centric model to ensure all Savannah children are developmentally ready for school. We expect to see measurable results, in terms of school readiness, in our target neighborhoods within the next few years. Within a generation, we believe this effort, if brought to scale, will have a significant impact on Savannah’s most difficult social and economic challenges. Specifically, we think such an investment over the long term can dramatically improve:

  • School readiness
  • Juvenile delinquency and truancy
  • Teen pregnancy rates
  • Graduation rates
  • Poverty rates
  • Overall crime rates
  • Local workforce preparedness


Break the cycle of persistent generational poverty and crime in Savannah.


Enhance parenting and leadership skills for parents who have grown up in and live in poverty in Savannah urban neighborhoods beginning with and focusing on parents of children birth to 3 years old.


With new knowledge, skills and confidence in themselves parents shift cultural paradigms creating safer, more nurturing neighborhoods, better partnering with teachers for the further education of their children and model life-long learning. All children ready for school by the time that they enter school.

[1] US Census Data,
[2] Step Up Savannah,
[3] 2012-13 school year data,
[4] Chatham County 2012 data, Teen pregnancy rates (ages 10-19).
[5] SCMPD data