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Too Small to Fail, A National Movement to Protect and Support America's Kids, Launched by The Center for the Next Generation

New national survey shows most Americans want more support for kids; Senior Bush, Obama campaign advisors collaborate on advertising campaign

Focus on "fiscal cliff" ignores protections for children

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Center for the Next Generation today launched Too Small to Fail (https://www.facebook.com/2smalltofail and www.toosmall.com, Twitter hash tag #toosmall), a national movement to focus attention on the need to protect and support America's kids and the challenges they face in leading healthy, happy, productive lives.

Too Small to Fail will engage businesses, policy makers, parents, and caregivers in a conversation about the urgent need to do more to address the challenges and problems that undermine the well being of children. The movement's participants – which includes top organizations focused on children's health, education, and social mobility, along with national media partners – will lead a national dialogue about five key issues affecting children today:

  1. Expanding access to quality education;
  2. Enhancing social mobility;
  3. Improving children's health by combating increased chronic illnesses;
  4. Promoting workplace flexibility and predictability so parents have more time for their children; and
  5. Harnessing the power and promise of 24/7 media.

Activities kick off today with a series of online and television ads, including two 30-second spots airing on major cable news networks that show young children in danger of physical harm. The ad challenges the viewer to take action by asking, "Can't watch one child in danger? You do it every day. Stop Watching. It's time to face the facts."

The ads, produced by a bipartisan national ad team lead by Mark McKinnon and Jim Margolis, can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/2smalltofail and on the Too Small to Fail website, www.toosmall.com.

According to Ann O'Leary, Director of the Children and Families Program at The Center for the Next Generation, "America's kids today face enormous challenges to their health and struggle to get the education and training they need. It is a shame on our country, and a shortsighted economic plan, that we have not made a national commitment to America's children in the same way that we support our seniors."

The facts demonstrate that all of America's kids are "at-risk" kids:

  • More than one-quarter of our children have chronic health conditions such as obesity and asthma, a doubling since 1991;
  • American students – even those from educated families – are lagging far behind international competitors in math, science, and reading, and risk losing their edge in the highly competitive global marketplace;
  • More than half of students from middle-income families who score highest on their 8th grade reading and math tests don't complete college, undermining their social mobility and future income security;
  • Two-thirds of students completing college or other post-secondary education or training are burdened with heavy debt, limiting their ability to build middle-class lives.

In addition to the worsening prospects for a widening swath of America's children, more than 16 million kids now live at or below the poverty line, the highest number of children in poverty in 50 years. The percentage of births to single mothers has nearly doubled in the past two decades – 41 percent overall – yet we've made little progress in supporting children of single parents. And we have an increasingly diverse population of children with a continuing education gap between whites, Hispanics and African Americans.

New exit poll of voters shows Americans want more support for kids

National surveys of voters and parents reinforce the fact that majorities of Americans want to see children placed much higher on the national agenda. A new national exit poll confirms these results.

The survey, conducted on November 4-6 and designed by The Center for the Next Generation in partnership with a bipartisan polling team led by Celinda Lake and Bob Carpenter, showed that overwhelming majorities of Americans (88 percent) think America should make the same type of commitment to children as it does to seniors; similarly high numbers (81 percent) agree that America's kids are falling behind the rest of the world in education, and will struggle to compete in the global economy (full poll results available at www.toosmall.com).

"Smart investments work. The research is unequivocal on this," said Matt James, President of The Center for the Next Generation. "We're hearing a lot of talk about the 'fiscal cliff,' but nobody's paying attention to the national cliff facing our kids: Huge hurdles to climb, and a real steep drop in their future prospects unless we take action. And this is absolutely a national crisis: Any nation that neglects its kids is asking for trouble."

"Our lack of support for kids is both morally outrageous and fiscally irresponsible," said Jim Steyer, chairman of The Center for the Next Generation. "A society is judged by the choices it makes. And our choice to under-invest in our kids is an error of historic proportions. We will pay a huge price for this with future generations who are ill-equipped in an increasingly dynamic and competitive society."

Too Small to Fail seeks to make children a long-term national priority with the understanding that improved outcomes for children is derived from three levels of responsibility:

  • Personal commitment: Parents should take responsibility for providing their children every opportunity to reach their potential.
  • Private commitment: Businesses and community groups should support family-friendly policies and benefits that make it easier for parents to be there for their children at critical times.
  • Public commitment: Government should create the level of protections and support that are afforded our seniors.

Too Small to Fail will build followers and support through social media, public meetings, media partnerships, and direct partnerships with national, state, and local organizations. One partner, Parents magazine, is engaged in a year-long focus on the issues affecting children, including dedicated features in print and on the magazine's website, http://www.parents.com/toosmall. Additionally, Washington Post Live is planning an 8-page insert on issues surrounding children and families and will serve as a host for a half-day summit in Washington in early 2013.

As a nonpartisan movement, Too Small to Fail has been developed by The Center for the Next Generation's Children and Families program and is supported by the TomKat Charitable Trust, the Ford Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, with initial funding of $7 million over three years. The growing list of national partner organizations include Opportunity Nation, First Focus, Moms Rising, Children's Defense Fund – California, Voices for America's Children and the Families and Work Institute.

The Center for the Next Generation works to shape national dialogue around two major challenges that affect the prospects of America's Next Generation -- advancing a sustainable energy future and improving opportunities for children and families. As a nonpartisan organization, the Center generates strategies that advance these goals through research, policy development and strategic communications. In our home state of California, the Center works to create ground-tested solutions that demonstrate success to the rest of the nation.

SOURCE The Center for the Next Generation

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