A new group of Kansas City area business leaders is lobbying in Jefferson City and Topeka to get early childhood education programs in Missouri and Kansas restored or fully funded.
The Alliance for Childhood Education, founded this year, is trying to influence the state legislatures to recognize that young children aren't being prepared well enough to eventually become the workers that businesses need.
"If things were working well, we wouldn't be here," said Tyler Nottberg, CEO of U.S. Engineering Co., an alliance co-founder.
Nottberg, along with Jonathan Freiden, CEO of U.S. Toy, and David Oliver, an attorney with the Berkowitz, Oliver firm, started the education-focused alliance earlier this year and hired Torree Pederson as an executive director.
Earlier this month, they hosted a recruiting event to encourage other business leaders to join their focus on education.
"There are other business groups that pay attention to education," Nottberg said, "but education is a subcommittee for them, not their primary purpose. We are committed solely to expanding the business constituency focused on education."
The alliance's agenda for the 2013 legislative session in Missouri focuses on getting about $13 million for the Early Childhood Development, Education and Care Fund, which provides money for Head Start and other preschool projects.
"It is imperative that this funding is first included in the governor's budget and the Division of Social Services budget," the alliance says in its information materials. "Beyond this budget target, we plan to work key lawmakers in Missouri to be sure the funding is restored in the final budget."
The alliance is developing some business partnerships in St. Louis to increase its lobbying clout in Jefferson City.
On the Kansas side, the alliance is advocating for about $56 million annually to sustain the Children's Initiative Fund, which needs funding sources other than the tobacco tax.
"This funding will have to be included in the governor's budget," the alliance says.
For more information about the alliance, call Pederson at 913-484-4202 or go toaceinvests.org.