Did you know that in Michigan:


  • 2.3 million children (under the age of 18) live in the state;
  • Almost 1 out of every 3 children live in a household with only one parent;
  • Approximately 31,800 children participate in the federally-funded Head Start program;
  • 69 percent of eighth graders are below grade level in math;
  • 69 percent of fourth graders are reading below grade level; and
  • 26 percent of high school students do not graduate on time with a high school diploma.

Click here for the complete Michigan Fact Sheet.


Our 2014 Policy Priorities


In 2014, America’s Edge members will be urging their state legislators and Congressional delegation to do the following:

a.     State Policy Priorities:

  • Michigan: Support increase of $130 million for the Great Start School Readiness program (state-funded preschool program).

b.            Federal Policy Priorities:

1. Protect Access to High Quality Early Care and Education and Increase Quality of Programs by:

a)  Fighting against cuts, and where possible seek increases, for Head Start, Early Head Start and both the discretionary and mandatory funding streams of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG);

b) Seek quality improvements to early learning programs through reauthorization of Head Start/Early Head Start, and CCDBG)

c) Maintain funding for Race to the Top, with focus on funding for Early Learning Challenge program and innovative high school programs;

d) Seek funding opportunities for innovative high school programs through ESEA and Perkins Reauthorizations (Tier II)

e ) Protect the current the structure of the CTC

2.     Strengthen our nation’s education system through federal education reform to:

  • Provide incentives for States to shift away from the traditional K-12 approach towards an educational system that incorporates early learning into the educational structure so kids are ready to learn and succeed when they enter kindergarten;
  • Support innovative high school education models, which can help vulnerable youth develop critical skills and be prepared for careers and/or post-secondary education;
  • Improve graduation rates measurement and accountability, including supporting both data systems that can serve as an “early warning system” for kids headed towards dropping out, as well as the use of evidence-based programs to keep kids in school and on the path towards graduation;
  • Provide the support of K-12 programs which enhance academic outcomes;
  • Creates a system of recruitment, professional development and retention for teachers so that more students – especially those most at-risk for adverse academic outcomes– have access to high-quality teachers; and
  • Ensure that, to the maximum extent possible, funds are directed toward evidence-based approaches in the highest-need communities.

America’s Edge Members Send Letters to Policy Makers


On March 6, 2013, 18 Michigan business leaders sent a letter to Senator Howard Walker and members of the K-12 & Education Subcommittee of Senate Appropriations urging them  to support a $130 million increase over Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015 for state-funded early learning programs. Their support would benefit programs that will ensure businesses have a workforce with the 21st-century knowledge, skills, and abilities we need. The business leaders noted that high quality early learning programs will contribute significantly to Michigan’s economic recovery, especially with immediate economic gains that return a total of $2.11 to local businesses and the economy for every $1 invested in high-quality early learning programs.

 Click here to view the letter.

On May 12, 2011, in response to a sign-on letter from the Michigan members of America’s Edge, Senator Debbie Stabenow wrote a letter expressing her continued support of early childhood education programs.

Click here to read the letter.

On December 27, 2011, in response to a sign-on letter from the Michigan members of America’s Edge, Director of Strategy at Governor Rick Snyder’s office, Bill Rustem wrote a letter expressing his appreciation for our effort and support in early care and education programs. Click here to read the letter.

America’s Edge Members Release Report in Michigan


In August 2011, Four Business Leaders Released Report in Kalamazoo, MI


“We’ve known public education as a long-term investment, that it takes 18 or 24 years to see a return on that investment,” said Steward Sandstrom, chief executive officer of the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce, who spoke at the America’s Edge event Tuesday.

“But what’s brought to light in this study is the immediate impact. You see returns virtually immediately.” To read more, please click here.

Sheri Welsh, president of Kalamazoo-based professional recruitment firm Welsh & Associates informed the crowd that “[i]nvestment in early education provides a booster shot to the economy now and also lays a foundation for long-term economic security.” To read more, please click here.

David Tomko, Mike Larson, Sheri Welsh, and Steward Sandstrom at the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce at the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce

Mike Larson, President and CEO of Greater Kalamazoo United Way reported that the early care and education sector employs more than 27,000 people in Michigan and that early care and education generates $2.1 billion in economic activity in the form of sales of local goods and services from Michigan businesses, providing a significant economic boost to local communities. To read more, please click here.

David Tomko, the Southwest Michigan regional president of PNC Bank said, ”The results [of investing in early care and education] are immediate…There’s no way to import it, offshore it or even get it from another state.” The banker said, “Those kinds of returns are difficult to ignore and, in fact, should be highlighted. Continuing these investments is an essential strategy for supporting Michigan’s businesses and economy.” To read more, please click here.

Steward Sandstrom, president and CEO of the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce described how investments in high-quality early care and education “provide a surprisingly big boost to local businesses in Michigan and play an important role in helping the state recover from the economic recession,” according to the Chamber. To read more, please click here. 

The  Times Leader quoted PNC Southwest Michigan Regional President, David Tomko saying, “Quality early learning investments in Michigan are generatingsales of goods and services that are comparable to returns on investments in transportation, construction or manufacturing.” To read more, please click here.

In March 2011, Three Business Leaders Released Report in Lansing, MI


MI_AE_Business Leaders.jpg

America’s Edge Members at the Press Event in Lansing, MI

On March 23, 2011, our Michigan business leaders released a new report entitled,   “Strengthening Michigan Businesses through Investments in Early Care and Education.” The report highlights the short-term economic benefits of investing in early learning programs, and shows that for every $1 invested in early care and education in Michigan, $2.11 is generated in total spending within the state.

The report release generated a lot of media coverage throughout the state, including clips on NBC News 10 (WILX-TV) and Fox 47 News (WSYM-TV), and a story on the Michigan Sandbox Party website.

NPR (WKAR) reported on the release as well as the Gongwer News Service, highlighting the findings of the America’s Edge report.

Click here to watch the video clip from NBC News 10.

Click here to read the full report.



Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce Hosts Breakfast with U.S. Senator Stabenow

On April 12, 2012, the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a breakfast for U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. Susan Gates, National Director of AMERICA’S EDGE, had the privilege of introducing the Senator. This was a great opportunity to give a brief introduction about the work of AMERICA’S EDGE, as well as identify our prominent members in Kalamazoo.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow

After the breakfast, there was a private meeting with the Senator, with two AMERICA’S EDGE members in attendance. Sheri Welsh, President and CEO of Welsh & Associates, spoke to the Senator about the importance of quality early learning to Michigan businesses and the economy. She pointed to the data in the AMERICA’S EDGE research report, which states that for every $1 invested in early learning in Michigan, a total of $2.11 is generated in the local economy. Sheri also discussed how that return out-performed other sectors, such as manufacturing, transportation, and construction.

Op Eds and Letters to the Editor by America’s Edge Michigan Members

“The America’s Edge research also shows that investment in early learning will save Michigan’s businesses millions of dollars lost every year because of absenteeism related to employees’ child care problems.
-Cynthia Williams, Executive Director, Michigan Education Special Services Association, East Lansing, MI

 *For more information, contact Michigan State Director, Kathy “K.P.” Pelleran.

Phone: (517) 803-2463

E-mail: kppelleran@americasedge.org