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Marsico Institute

Connecting children, families, and teachers with the best in early childhood research.


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The Marsico Institute for Early Learning, which is part of the Morgridge College of Education, is a research and social policy institute dedicated to improving learning environments and outcomes for children, birth to age 8.

At the Marsico Institute, we identify the best in early learning research, practice, and policy, and we deliver that information "just in time" to academics, practitioners, policymakers, and parents: the people who can create and implement changes to improve the lives of young children. We focus on early childhood because more than 93% of brain development occurs before the age of five. The quality of relationships and learning opportunities that young children experience can set the stage for what they will be able to accomplish throughout the rest of their lifetimes.

Marsico Racial Justice Statement

Marsico Institue

The Marsico Institute for Early Learning, along with our colleagues at the University of Denver, stands with the Black community against hate and racism in all its forms, including ongoing police brutality. In addition to the loss of Black lives at the hands of those charged with protecting lives, we are broken-hearted by the tragedy of higher infant and maternal mortality rates experienced by Black families, as well as the disproportionate number of Black children who are suspended and/or expelled from settings that are supposed to provide care and education. We condemn this damage done to Black children and families and recognize that these structural inequities in power are intertwined with all forms of social injustice.

We also recognize the damage done to children and families due to higher parental incarceration rates in communities of color, cruel detention policies of border enforcement, lives lost in native communities that lack healthy living conditions, disparities in access to health care experienced by people of color, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Latinx communities, and lives pained by racist ideas being spread about the global pandemic.

These realities challenge us to deepen our commitment to action that dismantles racism in our society. We are reflecting on ways to strengthen efforts to intentionally represent diversity in our studies, to engage in University efforts toward Inclusive Excellence, and to participate in initiatives that bring high-quality care and education to marginalized communities. We also seek to further our understanding of the reach and many manifestations of racism in order to inform the development of effective anti-racist practices and policies that guide our work.

We will continue to build our collective understanding and empathy through studying and reflecting on anti-racist literature and participating in cultural competency trainings. We commit to challenging outdated ways of thinking that do not represent anti-racist approaches to caring for and educating young children and respectfully engaging diverse families. We will continue to seek out diverse voices to help us develop as a research institute, while amplifying these voices within our field. We will improve our organizational efforts to learn from and support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) by incorporating an anti-racist lens in our production of activities for young children, professional development experiences, development of inclusive organizational policies and processes, design of research studies, and analysis and interpretation of our early childhood research data.

We have an obligation as researchers and teacher educators to make clear that children of color deserve high-quality, research-informed educational experiences. We acknowledge that equity will include additional investments in historically marginalized communities, supporting children and families in a culturally responsive way. We commit to joining the long and difficult road of eliminating racism from our systems and ways of thinking, particularly in our primary field of education.

In our desire to act as Allies and Accomplices, we acknowledge the need for these actions, while also acknowledging that this is not enough; that our long-term dedication to anti-racism will need to be informed from listening and learning from our community. Through internal and external work, we ally ourselves with all who are working to dismantle systems of bias that privilege learning opportunities for specific groups. These efforts align with our ongoing work to support equity in early childhood.

In solidarity and strength,

The Marsico Institute for Early Learning

Douglas H. Clements, PhD
Executive Director

Julie Sarama, PhD
Co-Executive Director

Crystal Day-Hess, PhD
Assistant Research Professor,
Assistant Director

Pam Hoberman
Director of Research Operations

Kim Munnerley
Business Coordinator

Christina Mulcahy, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Shannon Stark Guss, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Becky Chance, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Traci Kutaka, PhD
Research Associate

Laura Meza
Research Assistant