We take early childhood education seriously. From quality teachers to proven curriculum to engaging learning environments, TOP exists to brighten children’s futures.
Improving lifelong outcomes.
Early childhood education has demonstrated dramatic lifelong effects for economically at-risk children. It’s been proven by numerous national studies including our own longitudinal study. Earning more, graduating high school, owning a home, and having longer marriages are all affected by early childhood education.
We and our partners are committed to the highest-quality early education for children from low-income families. We believe that this work helps not only children but also their families and their whole community.
Part of our work at TOP is to advocate with lawmakers and government leaders to affect change in support of quality early childhood education. To show firsthand what quality education looks like for these children, TOP has given tours of its centers to more than 120 State Legislators, two U.S. Senators, three members of the U.S. Congress, as well as other visitors form as far away as Paraguay.
Did you know?
- 131,000 children live in poverty (18%)
- 56,000 children live in extreme poverty (8%, $11,000 or less for a family of 4)
- Approximately 6,600 children participate in the federally-funded Head Start program but only 12% of 3-year-olds and 41% of 4-year-olds are enrolled in state-funded pre-K, Head Start or special education preschool programs
- 24% of high school students do not graduate on time with a high school diploma
- Children under the age of 5 experience higher poverty rates than other children.
- Surveys and studies demonstrate that children who have not received an early childhood education usually are not able to perform well because of the lack of care and the required interaction.
- Advances in brain research show that children are born learning and that their first years of life largely determine the success they experience later in school. Early experiences that are nurturing and active actually thickens the cortex of an infant’s brain with more extensive and sophisticated neuron structures that later determine intelligence and behavior.
- While most middle and upper-income children have a nurturing early experience, children in poverty often live in chaotic environments. Low-income parents may struggle to find a job or pay the bills and consequently don’t have the means or time to create a stimulating learning environment for their children, resulting in an achievement gap between them and children of means that is visible as early as nine months of age.
Publications About TOP Early Learning Centers
- Early Childhood Education: Long-Term Benefits (Journal of Research in Childhood Education)
- Full-Day, Year-Round Early Care and Education Benefits and Barriers (The Kansas Children’s Cabinet & Trust Fund)
The Opportunity Project (TOP) is a 501c(3) charity based in Wichita, Kansas. TOP Early Learning Centers provide educational day care and preschool in some of Wichita’s low-income neighborhoods – Oaklawn, Evergreen, and north central Wichita. Dedicated to creating school readiness for at-risk children, TOP’s mission is to deliver a high-quality early learning experience to children living in poverty, providing them the tools needed for emotional, academic, and lifelong success.Learn More