Our Work Investing in Early Learning

Early Brain Development

Our Investment In Early Learning

SCI works to teach parents the importance of talk and interaction in fueling healthy brain development in the first three years of a child’s life. We work with community partners to connect with parents in three areas: in healthcare, in person, and in the community. 

In Heathcare

Every year in our community, nearly 5,400 babies are born across four hospitals. That’s 5,400 chances to reach and teach parents about the importance of early brain development.

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Brain Bags:

SCI created a program to reach parents with a video lesson and a toolkit called a Brain Bag. The video lesson is based on a two-year research collaboration between SCI and the University of Chicago’s TMW Center for Early Learning and Public Health. That research shows video is an effective tool to change what parents know about how they can influence a child’s early brain development — and how that influence builds the foundation for school readiness at age 5.


The Brain Bag was launched by a grant from IMPACT 100 Pensacola Bay Area in spring 2017. More than 18,500 have been given out at Baptist, Sacred Heart and West Florida hospitals since the project began. 

The Brain Bags are stored, assembled and delivered by The Arc Gateway’s Pollak Industries, which offers life- and work-skills training for adults with developmental disabilities.

The Brain Bag survey asks moms two questions: On a scale of 1-10, rate your knowledge of how parent talk influences early brain development before the Brain Bag, and then rate it after. Overall our parents say their knowledge started at: 7.6 and increases to a 9.7 after the lesson.

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Basics Pensacola:

SCI is a partner with The Basics Learning Network, a collaborative network founded by Dr. Ron Ferguson, an economist at Harvard University. It includes video lessons, toolkits and Basics Insights, a weekly texting service that sends advice, tips and support straight to a parent or caregiver’s phone. Research shows the texts change the way parents interact with their children and encourage them to use The Basics of brain building more often.

In Person

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Parent Outreach:

Since July 2017, Parent Outreach Program has focused on helping parents use the power they have to build their babies’ brains through words. The core 16-week curriculum focuses on the importance of healthy, early parent-child interaction. These weekly, one-hour sessions guide parents through the importance of talking and interacting with their young children.

SCI partners with the Area Housing Commission to lead parent groups for residents in two housing campuses with children under 4. We’ve touched 270 families through this program.

These children, when they age up to elementary school, primarily attend C.A. Weis, Global Learning Academy, and Warrington elementary schools. These neighborhood schools are traditionally among the lowest graded elementary schools in Escambia County School District, according to state standardized test scores (Florida Standards Assessment).

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Sibling Brain Builders:

Launched in Escambia County elementary and middle schools in 2019, this program uses the sibling dynamic boost literacy and language exposure. 

At Bellview Middle School, students with siblings ages 0 to 5 will take home lessons, worksheets and books to share and use with their younger brothers and sisters at home. The learning environment promotes brain building in babies and strengths older students’ skills. 

At Montclair, Weis, OJ Semmes and Lincoln Park elementary schools, pupils who read with younger siblings -- or preschoolers in their school -- are rewarded for their efforts with books and incentives. 

In The Community

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Make Play Smart:

Can we solve problems, think critically, and work together in a team? Can we manage our emotions and read the emotions of other people? These are things we learn through play. And they are the basis of the “soft skills” employers will for in us as adults. The Make Play Smart effort aims to build brain development concepts into public spaces in the community — in ways big and small. 

MPS Playgrounds have been installed at the Bodacious Brew Driver-Thru and in Moreno Court housing complex. These play spaces are built primarily with natural materials all designed to build gross and fine motor skills. They are landscaped with plants and trees that are non-toxic, attractive to butterflies and fuel a child’s connection with the natural world. That’s something research also shows is an important component of healthy brain development.

MPS Decals are a series of colorful, fun decals that can be installed in parks, playgrounds and other public spaces. These designs will reinforce concepts including counting, letter naming, shape and color identification. They’ve been placed on the steps at Blue Wahoos Stadium so that families can count and learn together. They’ve also been placed at parks across the community. 

Early Learning Initiatives

An Early Learning City is community that give parents the tools, advice and support they need to help their children be ready for kindergarten. From healthcare to business, everyone has a part to play.

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For Families

Resources to help you build your child’s brain every day, all the time

infant looking at picture book

Our Work

Programs to help build brains every day in our community.

mother reading to a baby

Pensacola Basics

Partners fueling the 5 Basics of health early brain development. 

Quint Studer listening to a discussion

Univ. Of Chicago

Partners testing tools to help moms tune in, take turns, talk more.

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Donors

Supporters who keep our work alive and growing.

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Reports

Research-rich reports and special projects that inform our work.

teacher reading to a child

Volunteer

How you can join our volunteer corps. 

donate to SCI Early Learning

Support Us

Become a contributor to our Early Learning Program

Make An Investment In Early Learning

An Early Learning City is a community that gives parents the tools, advice, and support they need to help their children be ready for kindergarten. From healthcare to business, everyone has a part to play.