Savannah Early Childhood Foundation

All Children Ready At School Age


Savannah’s Michael O’Neal Named One of Fortune Magazine’s “Heroes of the 500”

June 17, 2015 | Posted by pfisher

Savannah’s Michael O’Neal Named One of Fortune Magazine’s “Heroes of the 500” 

Second annual list recognizes “55 Fortune 500 employees whose remarkable acts of goodness and charity will inspire you”

 SAVANNAH, GA – Today, Parent University founder and Savannah Early Childhood Foundation (SECF) Executive Director Michael O’Neal received national recognition for his work in the community as one of Fortune magazine’s “Heroes of the 500.”

The magazine’s second annual “Heroes of the 500” list was released today and features the stories of 55 “Fortune 500” employees who are giving back to their communities in extraordinary ways. O’Neal was the only recipient from the Savannah area and one of only seven honorees from the state of Georgia.

O’Neal’s profile for the feature, which can be found online (, cites his work to create and expand the innovative Early Learning College at Parent University program for parents of young children in Savannah. As O’Neal, a father of four and grandfather of 10 children, told the magazine: “The most important thing is making the model engaging and making the environment feel safe and non-judgmental. Parents don’t feel like they’re being talked down to, and they feel like they’re valued.”

O’Neal was nominated by International Paper, where he has worked as a maintenance electrician for the past 38 years. Since January, International Paper has awarded O’Neal a paid sabbatical so that he can work with SECF full time and scale up the Early Learning College at Parent University program even further.

At the request of parents and principals, SECF recently announced that Early Learning College at Parent University will expand to six neighborhood schools in the 2015-16 school year.

About the Savannah Early Childhood Foundation: Established in 2011, the Savannah Early Childhood Foundation (SECF) is a first-of-its-kind 501c3 organization, working to stitch together community resources to ensure that all Savannah children are ready for school. Combining public and private resources, SECF is uniquely focused on helping parents create high quality learning environments for their children starting at birth through age five. In partnership with Parent University and other community partners, SECF has developed and operates multi-session Early Learning College programs for parents in several neighborhoods throughout the city. To learn more about our community-based, parent-centric approach to early childhood development, visit

About Parent University: Founded in 1999, Parent University is a 501c3 community collaborative that supports Savannah area families. This initiative promotes life-long learning and community building, encouraging parent involvement and participation in the education of our community’s children and youth. In our advanced society, each of us needs to keep abreast of new and innovative ways of teaching and learning. Parent University has provided a way. Learn more: