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Birmingham Talks receives national investment

Birmingham Talks focuses on improving kindergarten readiness by increasing interactive conversation between children and their caregivers.


Birmingham Talks, a local early childhood nonprofit, has received a $150,000 investment from The Hearst Foundations to expand professional development offerings for childcare providers. Birmingham Talks focuses on improving kindergarten readiness by increasing interactive conversation between children and their caregivers through the use of a small digital device (a “fitbit for words”) that counts the number of words children hear. The organization was founded in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office, and The Overton Project.

Over the past three years, Birmingham Talks has impacted approximately 100 teachers and over 1,000 children in local childcare centers. “Professional development from Birmingham Talks equipped my teachers with the necessary strategies to affect positive change in their classrooms,” said Sonya Prater, who led program implementation at Woodland Park Christian Learning Center. “Language is the basis for literacy and this program is essential to building a strong foundation for children in the Birmingham area.”

The investment from The Hearst Foundations will support the scaling of Birmingham Talks professional development program, allowing the organization to serve over 300 teachers and 3,000 children by 2025. “Early childhood educators are building the future of our city,” says Ruth Ann Moss, Executive Director of Birmingham Talks. “They deserve best in class support. We’re honored to partner with The Hearst Foundations to ensure that nationally acclaimed professional development is widely accessible in Birmingham.”

Based in New York and San Francisco, The Hearst Foundations work to ensure that people of all backgrounds can build healthy, productive, and satisfying lives. The Foundations have awarded more than 1.4 billion dollars in funds since 1946. “Rigorous professional development is a vital component of high quality childcare,” said Sarah T. Mishurov, Director of Strategy & Operations at The Hearst Foundations. “We look forward to seeing the impact of this investment in Birmingham’s early learning ecosystem.”

Birmingham Talks is a replication effort of Providence Talks, the first-ever Grand Prize Winner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge, an innovation competition for cities. Other vital supporters of Birmingham Talks include the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, the Altec/Styslinger Foundation, the Mike & Gillian Goodrich Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, and a variety of other committed local and national funders. Founded in 2019, Birmingham Talks runs two signature programs: LENA Start (small group parent classes) and LENA Grow (professional development for childcare centers). To learn more about the organization’s approach to increasing kindergarten readiness, visit

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