A Conversation with Our Neighbors to the North: Thrive by 5 Meets Thrive by Five


Sometimes you’re so busy creating and doing that you don’t realize how far you’ve come, how much you’ve learned and how much success you have to be proud of until someone makes you stop and answer a few questions.


That happened this past week when a group visited us from Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


The team from Thrive by 5: Calgary’s Early Years Innovation Lab represented multiple sectors – health and wellness, corporate giving, city government, direct-service nonprofit and academia. Their vision is to make Calgary “the best place in the world to grow up,” and on this learning journey to Washington, they were seeking insights that would help transform the early childhood development system there.


Some of the questions they had for us:

  • What challenges, opportunities and trends are you seeing?
  • What are you most proud of and what concerns you?
  • What’s working well and what isn’t?


Sam Whiting, Thrive’s president & CEO, Dan Torres, our community partnerships manager, and I shared with the Calgary contingent our history of early learning in Washington state and the strengths of our unique system.


Frankly, it’s so fun and easy to talk about what has happened in Washington state. There is so much for all of us to be proud of. That’s right … US. We couldn’t stress enough to our Canadian colleagues how important partnership is in this work.


During our 90-minute conversation, we focused on the value of having a public-private partnership in our state, which helps us leverage and braid funding to have the greatest impact. There is so much more to that partnership than money, though – it’s also about connecting private stakeholders to state systems. That means that we have multi-way conversations happening, among parents and local leaders, community-level organizations and regional groups, statewide agencies, tribes and policymakers – and everything in between.


That type of partnership and shared leadership raises community voice to the state level, and it allows different people and organizations to pick up and run with different parts of the work. We’re all aligned, though, because we agree to follow to our state’s Early Learning Plan.


I wish our counterparts in Calgary the best of luck as they continue their research mission and continue to work to make their vision a reality!