Key Points

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation created Starting Smart and Strong, a 10-year, place-based initiative in three California communities, to develop and test solutions that support parents, caregivers, and educators as they prepare young children to be healthy and ready for school. The initiative brings together public and private partners to create comprehensive early learning systems, with a focus on impact at scale.

Seven years into Starting Smart and Strong, we offer key insights into our experiences as program staff managing this complex initiative and how our approach to scaling impact has shifted over the course of the strategy. Listening deeply to communities and honoring how they define scale and drive their scaling efforts through the systems they built resulted in creative, locally owned solutions to achieve impact. This allowed us to think more expansively about impact, which led to the development of a bifurcated scaling strategy.

Looking ahead as we plan for exit from the initiative in three years, we offer reflections on how our approach to scaling impact has changed over time, where we stumbled, and how we pivoted. We offer insights into how we are thinking about supporting communities’ ownership of their own scaling journeys to sustain lasting change, and how our roles changed as the strategy matured.

Open Access