Recently, the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading held a Convening on Health Determinants of Early School Success: Leveraging Medicaid for Impact. Carolyn Lyons, a senior consultant with the Campaign, asked me to share how pleased she was with the energy, excitement, commitment and connections that the event catalyzed and strengthened.

See below for links to videos, slides and other resources from the day. The occasion was used to release a new report, Toward Bigger Outcomes: Taking on the Health Determinants of Early School Success. That report is available here

On November 17, more than 100 funders and their partners, along with education and health policymakers and thought leaders, met at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., for a convening on "The Health Determinants of Early School Success: Leveraging Medicaid for Impact," sponsored by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

We were delighted with the energy and momentum that this topic catalyzed, and we are grateful for those who participated in this timely discussion. Special thanks to the sponsoring organizations that made the convening possible: The DentaQuest Foundation, Nemours Children's Health System, Colgate-Palmolive and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

The group gathered to raise up the health determinants of early school success and the role that Medicaid can play to address them, and to learn about innovative and successful approaches for engaging Medicaid resources to address specific determinants. After Ralph Smith, Managing Director, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, and Dayna Long, MD, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, set the context for the day, the keynote address was delivered by Vikki Wachino, Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Leaders from multiple systems impacting the lives of low-income children and families provided commentary on Wachino’s remarks, and innovative leaders from New York, Georgia and Oregon presented their state's approaches to leveraging Medicaid for kindergarten readiness.

At lunch, Joan Alker of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families discussed the progress, challenges and opportunities associated with Medicaid as a program to benefit children. Participants then met in issue-specific groups to hear from funders about experiences and lessons learned from working with Medicaid. At the closing session, philanthropic leaders reflected on the key themes that rose up during the day. Benard Dreyer, MD, President, American Academy of Pediatrics, provided closing comments, saying that "The discussions we are having are among the most important discussions for the future of our country and for kids and families."

All related materials, including a video of the plenary sessions and all PowerPoints and additional resources from throughout the day, are available here. Within the next few weeks, be on the lookout for a summary report of key themes and actionable, achievable steps funders can take to leverage their leadership, influence, voice and dollars to advance momentum in their own communities and states.

As we agreed at the National Press Club, in the words of Fran Gary, President and CEO of Amerigroup Georgia, it's time to "get crazy for these kids." We look forward to continuing the journey with you.

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