Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative Helps Bridge Academic Achievement Gap for More Than 1,000 Local Children and Families

Unique public/private partnership between Napa Valley Vintners and First 5 Napa County establishes model to address community’s public education needs


10/15/2014 - St. Helena, CA – More than 1,000 Napa County children and adults were helped by the Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative (NVELI) in its first year, according to a report just released by the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) nonprofit trade association and First 5 Napa County. The multi-year, multi-million dollar strategic funding initiative, launched in spring 2013, is a collaborative partnership between the two organizations that focuses on early learning and kindergarten readiness to reduce the achievement gap between English-fluent and English language-learning students in Napa County.

“We’re thrilled with the results we’ve achieved with our partner First 5 Napa County in the inaugural year of this initiative,” commented Linda Reiff, president and CEO of the Napa Valley Vintners. “Together, we’ve created a solid foundation for the program and we can already see progress in several areas. We are eager to continue our work together to ensure every child in Napa County enters kindergarten ready to learn.” The NVV has committed up to $5 million for the initiative, made possible by proceeds from its annual Auction Napa Valley fundraiser.

NVELI aims to reduce the achievement gap by supporting children, their families and the early learning professionals that work with them. In its first year, the program targeted neighborhoods adjacent to four Napa County elementary schools: Napa Junction Elementary in American Canyon; Phillips and Shearer Elementary schools in the city of Napa; and Calistoga Elementary in Calistoga.

More than $700,000 was invested in nine different programs like English as a second language classes for parents; kindergarten transition activities for children; early literacy programs; parent workshops on child development; and the creation of a structure to support early learning professionals.

The NVELI First Year Report summarizes the results in three key areas: Family Strengthening, Child Access and Provider Quality. Findings from the first year indicate:
• The Family Strengthening program served more than 1,000 Napa County children and adults in its first year and provided 300 classes and workshops, along with 96 family-focused events to engage hard to reach families.
• 60% of parents reported an increase in the amount of time they provided to expand learning for their children through conversation.
• At least 94% of parents felt more confident in supporting their child in school.
• There were statistically significant gains in English language skills for the parents, which allow for writing basic notes, completing medical forms and filling out job applications.
• The Child Access component provided some 200 English language-learning 3- to 5-year-olds with high-quality preschool experiences.
• Through the Provider Quality program, 18 early learning professionals received 40 coaching sessions and/or classes to help them better serve dual-language learning students.

“In the 2013-14 school year, more than half of Napa County students were Hispanic/Latino and nearly 25% were English language-learners,” noted Michelle Laymon, NVELI program officer. “We know that early intervention and school-readiness programs like NVELI make a difference, not only while kids are in school, but toward their ability to be engaged members of our community as they become adults.”

“We’ve learned that funding alone is not enough,” stated Sally Sheehan-Brown, executive director of First 5 Napa. “In our 15 years of experience serving the Napa community, we’ve acted as a convener and facilitator to support the development of locally led initiatives on behalf of children and families. NVELI is a model for how we can work with the private sector to ensure success for our community.”

Copies of the Napa Valley Early Learning Initiative First Year Report are available here.

About the Napa Valley Vintners
The Napa Valley Vintners nonprofit trade association has been cultivating excellence for 70 years by inspiring its 500 members to produce consistent quality wines, provide environmental leadership and care for the extraordinary place they call home. Learn more at

About First 5 Napa County
California voters passed Proposition 10 in November 1998 establishing the 58 Children and Families Commissions later becoming known as First 5 emphasizing the importance of a child’s first five years.
Proposition 10 added a 50 cent tax on all tobacco products to provide funds to support services for children 0-5 and their families. Proposition 10 was built on research showing investments in the first five years produce significant results – for the children, their families and society. In November 2013, First 5 celebrated its 15th Anniversary and the combined community investment of over $18 million for young children, families and early care providers.

Contact: Cate Conniff, Communications Manager 707.968.4229