This week, Providence Talks, an initiative founded in 2013 by the City of Providence in partnership with Brown University, held its first open policy forum at Brown in an event co-sponsored by the UEP Program. The Providence Talks initiative aims to improve the vocabularies of preschool children, thereby setting them up for success and shrinking the long-term achievement gap between students of low-income and high-income families. Providence was awarded $5 million after winning the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life. Now wrapping up its pilot phase and scheduled to scale to an additional 750 households within the next year, the wealth of data coming out of the Providence Talks project will be evaluated by Brown University and Urban Education Policy researchers in the years ahead in order to fine-tune what works and what does not work about the program.
The forum was open to the public and attended by members of the Brown and Providence communities. University of Chicago’s Dr. Dana Suskind, author of Thirty Million Words, spoke on the research that has lead to the development of this program, and panelists Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Bloomberg Philanthropies Anne Emig, Dr. Dana Suskind, and UEP Director Dr. Kenneth Wong answered a variety of questions about the program during an open Q&A session with the enthusiastic audience.