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Essence Partners with Too Small to Fail, a Joint Initiative of The Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, to Promote Early Vocabulary Development Among African-American Children, Ages 0 to 5

New Orleans — Today, to coincide with "Family Day" at the 20th annual Essence Festival, ESSENCE and Too Small to Fail announced a new partnership to deliver information and mobilize ESSENCE’s audience to improve the lives of young African-American children, from birth to age five. For the first year of the campaign, ESSENCE and Too Small to Fail will focus on a serious challenge in early learning—specifically, narrowing the “word gap.” Through the campaign, the partners will encourage parents and caregivers to take simple actions during their children’s first five years of life -- like talking, reading and singing -- to foster language and early brain development. 

Research shows that the more words children hear directed at them by parents and caregivers, the more they learn.  Yet, researchers have found that by age four, children from low income households hear 30 million fewer words than their higher-income peers, and, as a result, have more than double the vocabulary as those children who have heard fewer words. These dramatic gaps result in significant learning disadvantages that persist into adulthood.

The more parents talk, read, and sing with their children during the earliest years of life, the more words and information they learn, laying the groundwork for future academic success. In addition to increasing talk, increasing access to books and reading is critical.  Children from low-income families have significantly fewer books than their more affluent peers.  Last week, at the CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) America meeting in Denver, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced new guidelines for pediatricians to promote early literacy—beginning from an infant's very first days—as an “essential” component of primary care visits. 

“ESSENCE has a long and proud history of delivering important information to our readers that will help improve their lives and the overall health of our communities. We invest in initiatives and partnerships that provide our readers with the latest tools and resources to help them, and their families, succeed,” said Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communications, Inc.

“Early learning and family support have long been central to the Essence brand, and we see no better role for our publication than to empower our readers with the information they need to make good parenting decisions,” said Vanessa K. Bush, editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine.  “I’m so proud to be making this exciting new partnership announcement with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, at our historic ‘Family Day’ event during the 20th annual Essence Festival.  This new collaboration with Too Small to Fail, and many other education organizations and corporate partners, will help us amplify our commitment by delivering the best information possible about early childhood development to the African-American community.”

ESSENCE will direct its efforts at African-American parents and other caregivers of newborns to age five, encouraging them to talk, read, and sing with their children in order to develop their language and vocabulary skills.  The campaign will leverage ESSENCE's broad array of content platforms, including editorial content in ESSENCE magazine and online at Essence.com, special event integrations (including at this year's Essence Festival), and social media content.  The partners are also working to identify corporate partners to extend the reach of the effort through retail and other direct-to-consumer platforms. 

Patti Miller, director of Too Small to Fail for the Clinton Foundation, added:  “We are thrilled to be partnering with Essence and its terrific array of content platforms to reach African-American parents and caregivers with this important message. We know that every parent wants the best for their children, and together, Too Small to Fail and Essence can help make sure parents have the tools and information they need to ensure their children will have the best start in school and in life.”

The partnership launched today with a special on-stage presentation at the Essence Festival's Family Day, with remarks from Michelle Ebanks, Vanessa K. Bush and Patti Miller, as well as a special video message from Hillary Rodham Clinton. Disney Junior's Doc McStuffins was on-hand, along with local family healthcare provider and Artemis Medical Society ambassador Dr. Christy Valentine, founder of the Valentine Medical Center in New Orleans, for a special storybook reading, followed by a dance and sing-along with Doc.


Next Generation: Anastasia Ordonez [email protected] (510) 590-8471                                                        

Clinton Foundation: Nick Merrill [email protected] (212) 348-0360

ESSENCE: Dana Baxter [email protected] (212) 522-0274

About Essence Communications, Inc.

ESSENCE is Where Black Women Come First for news, entertainment and motivation. ESSENCE occupies a special place in the hearts of millions of Black women-its not just a magazine but her most trusted confidante, a brand that has revolutionized the magazine industry and has become a cultural institution in the African-American community. Founded in 1968, Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) launched ESSENCE, the ground-breaking magazine created exclusively for African-American women in 1970. For 42 years, the company has flourished and expanded beyond the pages of its flagship magazine to generate brand extensions such as the Essence Music Festival, Women Who Are Shaping the World Leadership Summit, Window on Our Women (WOW I, II & III) and Smart Beauty I, II & III consumer insights, the Essence Book Club, Essence.com, and ventures in digital media (mobile, television and VOD) via Essence Studios. The ECI corporate headquarters are in New York City, with offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Detroit.

About Too Small to Fail

Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, aims to help parents, communities and businesses take meaningful actions to improve the health and well-being of children ages zero to five, so that more of America’s children are prepared to succeed in the 21st century. 

In 2014, Too Small to Fail will focus its work on closing the “word gap.” Studies have found that by age four, children in middle and upper class families hear 30 million more words than children than their lower income peers. This disparity in hearing words from parents and caregivers translates directly into a disparity in learning words. And that puts our children born with the fewest advantages even further behind. Among those born in 2001, only 48 percent of poor children started school ready to learn, compared to 75 percent of children from middle-income families.

The “word gap” is a significant but solvable challenge. Too Small to Fail is about parents, caregivers, other concerned individuals, and the private sector coming together to take small, research-based actions with big impacts.

Learn more at www.toosmall.org and on Twitter @2SmalltoFail.

About The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation

The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation convenes businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for women and girls, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change.  Because of our work, 20,000 American schools are providing kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; 21,000 farmers in Malawi have improved their incomes by more than 500 percent; 248 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced in cities worldwide; more than 5,000 people have been trained in marketable job skills in Colombia; more than 6.8 million people have benefited from lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications; $100 million in strategic investments have been made, impacting the health of 50 million people in the U.S.; and members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made nearly 2,800 Commitments to Action to improve more than 430 million lives around the world. 

Learn more at www.clintonfoundation.org, and on Twitter @ClintonFdn.

About Next Generation

Next Generation promotes solutions to two of the biggest challenges confronting the next generation of Americans:  The risk of dangerous climate change, and the threat of diminished prospects for children and families. Through the use of non-partisan research, policy development, and strategic communications, we identify strategies that help deploy clean, advanced energy technologies; we also work to ensure a level playing field from which today’s kids can build a brighter future. 

Learn more at www.thenextgeneration.org,www.facebook.com/thenextgeneration.org and on Twitter @nextgen_USA.