A Final Message from President & CEO Sam Whiting

Today is my last day at Thrive.

I’ll sure miss the people and the day-to-day work of early learning, but I leave confident that Thrive is on the right path and excited to watch the many more great things to come for both the organization and the field.

When I started on Jan. 31, 2014, Thrive had recently merged with the Foundation for Early Learning. We had a lot of work to do to define who we are, why we’re needed, and our most important work. We have done that.

In fact, just today, the Thrive board approved a new mission to capture what we’ve learned about ourselves:

Thrive Washington advances high-quality early learning – with a commitment to innovation and equity – throughout Washington state. We work with partners to activate communities, advocate for young children and families, and influence public and private investment.

Here’s what we know as Thrive enters our second decade as an organization:

  • We look at all aspects of early learning in Washington state. We don’t do all of the work, but we are fully aware of everything in play in early learning and mindful of how that all sits inside the cradle-to-career continuum.
  • We have a clear set of values that guide how we do our work and show up.
  • We play three key roles that our partners regularly ask us to take on and that we’re uniquely situated to do.
    • Indispensable Partner: We unite individuals and communities, encouraging them to find common ground, build on their capabilities and amplify their influence.
    • Unwavering Advocate: We inspire bold visions and initiate powerful actions to ensure a great start for our youngest children, especially those furthest from opportunity.
    • Breakthrough Investor: We ensure that both public and private resources are invested in innovations and proven programs that make the biggest difference.

All of this means that Thrive is moving forward decisively and enthusiastically in several key areas, many of which we’re already doing, some of which we are beginning to address with our partners.

We will deepen and strengthen our advocacy work in Olympia and in communities, so that more public dollars are invested in children and families as early as possible and so that families have a stronger voice in early learning policy and program development. We join many partners in the early learning community in prioritizing investments in high-quality home visiting services, the state’s preschool program and workforce development and compensation.

We also will build on our early learning STEM grants by partnering with the Department of Early Learning and increasing the early math knowledge and confidence of families, caregivers and early learning professionals.

And we will become an even bigger partner in the work to acknowledge and address childhood trauma and resilience.

Over the past two years, I traveled throughout the state, the country and the world, sharing Washington’s early learning successes and learning from others. It is clear that other states and countries look to us for what they could do next for the young children and families they serve. This makes me value my time and contributions at Thrive even more. I’m honored to have worked with such trailblazers and will continue to do what I can to support early learning.

Thrive reflects the early learning field in general, in that it’s a group of super-smart, hardworking, passionate folks. I leave you in great hands.

Thank you for an amazing two years.

Now, what will I do with all of these orange and blue get-ups I’ve accumulated to match the Thrive brand colors?