Collaborations between funders and leading research universities seem to be favored approaches by which many philanthropists address major issues of concern, including early childhood education. For instance, we've written previously about the alliance between the Penn Foundation and Drexel University to boost early childhood educational opportunities in Philadelphia.
For the latest alliance between funders and universities to improve the quality of education in those critical early years, we turn our attention to Florida, where the Jim Moran Foundation just awarded the University of Florida's College of Education $1 million to provide online professional development to thousands of early childhood educators across the Sunshine State.
The online program, Early Learning Florida, is the first of its kind to improve the knowledge and skills of early childhood education professionals.
If you're not familiar with the Jim Moran Foundation, here's an introduction: The foundation was started in 2000 by automotive pioneer Jim Moran, the dealer known for years in Chicago as "Jim Moran the Courtesy Man." Moran was one of the first dealers to sell Toyotas stateside and helped popularize the brand here. That turned out to be a pretty smart bet, right?
And now the Jim Moran Foundation is place bets of a very different kind. Its funding priorities include education, elder care, family strenghtening, and youth transitional living. Based in Deerfield Beach, Florida—at 100 Jim Moran Boulevard—the funder concentrates its efforts in three Florida counties: Broward, Palm Beach, and Duval.
Early Learning Florida offers online and classroom instruction and continuing education for early learning professionals in the Sunshine State. The Moran Foundation estimates there are 55,000 early childhood educators across Florida, all of whom can benefit from the professional development opportunities offered by Early Learning Florida.
Online education is a red-hot in today's continuing education and professional development world. Just witness the popularity of sites such as Udemy and Coursera.
The Moran Foundation will spread the $1 million gift in equal payments over a three-year period. Overall, Early Learning Florida is receiving $3 million in grants. Besides the Moran Foundation, other contributors included the Helios Education Foundation, which supports education projects in Florida and Arizona; the Florida-based Lastinger Family Foundation; and an anonymous funder based in Ohio.