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New partnership aims to increase early childhood development

Mark Parker



Thrive by Five Pinellas has a new strategic partner to aid in its mission of ensuring healthy development and kindergarten readiness for area children under the age of five.

Community Foundation Tampa Bay (CFTB) recently announced it has become the “backbone organization” for Thrive by Five Pinellas – a nonprofit focused on increasing the percentage of children in the community that are “ready” for kindergarten. Thrive by Five focuses on creating and connecting community resources to aid in childhood development, such as physical health and well-being, social competency, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development, and communication and general knowledge.

Thrive by Five aims to build on its past successes and explore new opportunities through its collective impact model and a new alliance with CFTB.

“Healthy Childhood development can contribute to positive progress in our community’s vibrancy, economic mobility, and mental well-being,” said Marlene Spalten, President and CEO of CFTB. “We’re pleased to build on the work of Thrive by Five Pinellas and lend our expertise in collective impact to enhance and elevate the network.”

CFTB serves as a backbone organization for many nonprofits, playing a key role in mobilizing, coordinating, and facilitating the process of collective impact. CFTB has previously created collective impact networks focused on learning like the LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network and the Wimauma Community Education Partnership. The Community Foundation has also been integral in increasing the number of people certified in Mental Health First Aid in the Tampa Bay area.

According to Lindsay Carson, CEO of Pinellas Early Learning Coalition, this background made CFTB a logical partner for Thrive by Five’s mission.

“It was a natural transition in Thrive By Five Pinellas’ growth to become a fund of Community Foundation Tampa Bay,” said Carson. “We’ve already made significant progress, and we look forward to being a part of the network’s next phases.”

While the partnership will strengthen Thrive by Five’s quest to ensure area children are prepared for school, operational changes are minimal. Thrive by Five’s director, Dr. Bilan Joseph, will now become a staff member of the CFTB. However, she will continue to lead the collective impact network and seek new ways to further early childhood development in Pinellas County.

The 14 organizations that comprise the Thrive by Five Steering Committee will remain in place. There is also familiarity between the two organizations, as the Community Foundation’s Senior Director of Community Impact, Chuck Tiernan, has served on the Thrive by Five Steering Committee for the past four years.

The Early Learning Coalition was the original backbone organization for Thrive by Five after it was founded in 2017 with financial support from the Foundation for a Healthy St. Pete. Both organizations remain engaged partners in the collective impact work. To learn more about Thrive by Five, visit their website here.

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay was founded in 1990 and connects donors, nonprofits, community and business leaders, volunteers, and residents to make a positive impact in the Tampa Bay region. Since its inception, CFTB has awarded more than $280 million in grants to nonprofit organizations across the country. To learn more about CFTB, visit their website here.

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