Village of Promise-Randolph Academic Challenge is May 3, 2015!!


We are excited to again present the academic challenge this May at the Thurber Arts Center, Randolph School Garth Campus from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. BizTec and IBeria Bank are our proud sponsors this year. Trophies and prizes will be awarded to the winners of each category-debate, oratory, math and entrepreneurship. There will be many distinguished judges from the community as well as high profile and accomplished individuals who will introduce each division of the competition. This is a fast paced event celebrating academic achievement. MAPS, University Place Elementary, Randolph School and Montvew Elementary all compete on mixed teams for the win. This event is open to the public and you are invited!

Infant University Promise Class 2 Begins January 17, 2015

We are so excited that the new year will bring Infant University Promise Class 2, held at AAA School. The course comprises of 9 Saturdays from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. If you or someone you know is interested in Infant University Promise Class 3 please email Day IU 2015

Pediatrics Group to Recommend Reading Aloud to Children From Birth

Article by Motoko Rich, June 24, 2014, New York Times

In between dispensing advice on breast-feeding and immunizations, doctors will tell parents to read aloud to their infants from birth, under a new policy that the American Academy of Pediatrics will announce on Tuesday.

With the increased recognition that an important part of brain development occurs within the first three years of a child’s life, and that reading to children enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills, the group, which represents 62,000 pediatricians across the country, is asking its members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud, every time a baby visits the doctor.

“It should be there each time we touch bases with children,” said Dr. Pamela High, who wrote the new policy. It recommends that doctors tell parents they should be “reading together as a daily fun family activity” from infancy.

This is the first time the academy — which has issued recommendations on how long mothers should nurse their babies and advises parents to keep children away from screens until they are at least 2 — has officially weighed in on early literacy education.

While highly educated, ambitious parents who are already reading poetry and playing Mozart to their children in utero may not need this advice, research shows that many parents do not read to their children as often as researchers and educators think is crucial to the development of pre-literacy skills that help children succeed once they get to school.

Reading, as well as talking and singing, is viewed as important in increasing the number of words that children hear in the earliest years of their lives. Nearly two decades ago, an oft-cited study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than have those of less educated, low-income parents, giving the children who have heard more words a distinct advantage in school. New research shows that these gaps emerge as early as 18 months.

According to a federal government survey of children’s health, 60 percent of American children from families with incomes at least 400 percent of the federal poverty threshold — $95,400 for a family of four — are read to daily from birth to 5 years of age, compared with around a third of children from families living below the poverty line, $23,850 for a family of four.

With parents of all income levels increasingly handing smartphones and tablets to babies, who learn how to swipe before they can turn a page, reading aloud may be fading into the background.

“The reality of today’s world is that we’re competing with portable digital media,” said Dr. Alanna Levine, a pediatrician in Orangeburg, N.Y. “So you really want to arm parents with tools and rationale behind it about why it’s important to stick to the basics of things like books.”

Reading aloud is also a way to pass the time for parents who find endless baby talk tiresome. “It’s an easy way of talking that doesn’t involve talking about the plants outside,” said Erin Autry Montgomery, a mother of a 6-month-old boy in Austin, Tex.

Low-income children are often exposed little to reading before entering formal child care settings. “We have had families who do not read to their children and where there are no books in the home,” said Elisabeth Bruzon, coordinator for the Fairfax, Va., chapter of Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters, a nonprofit program that sends visitors to the homes of low- to moderate-income families with children ages 3 to 5.

The pediatricians’ group hopes that by encouraging parents to read often and early, they may help reduce academic disparities between wealthier and low-income children as well as between racial groups. “If we can get that first 1,000 days of life right,” said Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, “we’re really going to save a lot of trouble later on and have to do far less remediation.”

Dr. Navsaria is the medical director of the Wisconsin chapter of Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit literacy group that enlists about 20,000 pediatricians nationwide to give out books to low-income families. The group is working with Too Small to Fail, a joint effort between the nonprofit Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation that is aimed at closing the word gap.

At the annual Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Denver on Tuesday, Hillary Rodham Clinton will announce that Scholastic, the children’s book publisher, will donate 500,000 books to Reach Out and Read. Too Small to Fail is also developing materials to distribute to members of the American Academy of Pediatrics to help them emphasize the read-aloud message to parents.

Infant University 2014


Infant University is a successful scholastic program started by the charter school Harlem’s Children Zone.  In 1997 Harlem Children’s Zone was launched; it targets a geographical area in Central Harlem with an expansive range of various services.  Today, the Zone Project covers 100 blocks and serves over 10,000 children.  According to the New York Times “The Zone Project combines educational, social and medical services.  It starts at birth and follows children to college. It meshes those services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an entire neighborhood. The objective is to create a safety net woven so tightly that children in the neighborhood just can’t slip through.”

Geoffrey Canada, in his 20-plus years with Harlem Children’s Zone, has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and struggling families in Harlem and has been a powerful advocate for educational reform.  Since 1990, Mr. Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone, called by New York Times Magazine “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.”

The primary goal of Harlem’s Children Zone is to enhance the lives of poor children living in one of the hardest-hit economic areas of America, Harlem, that is adjacent to one of the richest areas of America, Manhattan.

Infant University began as a part of Harlem’s Children Zone in 2000; the goal of Infant University is to provide parents and foster parents raising a child up to age 3 with the information and skills to provide a nurturing support structure with the goal of raising emotionally and scholastically prepared, healthy children that can handle the rigors of elementary school and beyond.

Infant University staff were trained by Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, who also participated in developing the program’s curriculum.  Dr. Brazelton graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.  He later went on to work in Massachusetts at Children’s Hospital.    In 1972 he established the Child Development Unit, a pediatric training and research center, at Children’s Hospital.  Dr. Brazelton later created the NBAS, or Neonatal Behavioral Scale, to assess children’s brain functioning in infancy.  Today, Dr. Brazelton is actively involved with The Brazelton Touchpoints (; a preventative outreach program that trains professionals nationwide to better serve families of infants and toddlers.  He is also on the faculty of the Brazelton Institute. Our Village of Promise staff will be traveling to Boston in March to receive training at Touchpoints.

In 2007, 81% of Infant University parents improved how often they read to their children (that typically increases scholastic grades over the short and long term, from preK, K-12 to postgraduate studies), and 95% of parents had acquired health insurance for their children upon graduation. Ninety seven percent of parents had up-to-date or scheduled immunizations for their children upon graduation.

There has been a plethora of research that provided the foundation for Infant University, something that Village of Promise has pledged to provide in Huntsville to our families in the Promise neighborhood.  Hart & Risley (1995) showed that children from lower income families had a comprehensive vocabulary at the age of three that was less than half developed than a child from a professional family.  Studies have shown children’s brains grow more in the first three years of life than at any other time; additionally, trust and emotional security is cultivated as a result of relationships formed with a small number of family members, reliable caregivers, teachers and mentors.  These early childhood experiences provide the basis that supports scholastic exploration and social skills that will prove invaluable as time goes on.

Village of Promise has the objective of replicating the Harlem Children’s Zone Infant University in an effort to keep kids scholastically and emotionally prepared, healthy, and ready for school, every single day.  Village of Promise seeks  to give every child the best possible launch in life. Bobby Bradley, CEO of Village of Promise states “Infant University will help expectant and new parents in our neighborhood with the tools and the resources to care for and nurture their babies and give them the best start in life.”

Some of the measurements of success will include:

  • Completion rate at each grade level
  • Frequency of books read to children
  • Percentage of children with up to date immunizations and those receiving care from a pediatrician/physician
  • Family/child up to date statistics
  • Long term study looking at individual outcomes under the program

Village of Promise is extremely excited to be doing the kind of outreach in our neighborhood for Village of Promise families.  We have received enthusiastic support for Infant University, and we are excited to begin serving our expectant and new parents September 2014.

3 babies







Barnes, K. (2002).  The Baby College.  Harlem’s Children Zone- A Look Inside. Vol 1

Brazelton, T.B. & Sparrow, J (2007).  Will My Child Succeed In School?.  The Baby College Connection. January, 2007.

 National Scientific Council on the Developing Child.  Young Children Develop in An Environment of Relationships.  Waltham, MA.