This year, GEEARS’ Annual Luncheon happens, appropriately enough, on Giving Tuesday, November 28th, at the Whitley Hotel. While the event is a fundraiser for us, we like to think the giving goes both ways!

Three Reasons to Buy Your Annual Luncheon Tickets Today

This mid-day soiree is famously fun. There’ll be, of course, a delicious meal and charming décor. (Nobody can immerse themselves in our bright orange/green/blue color scheme without smiling—it’s simply not possible.) And you’ll have a chance to see old and new friends. Trust us, this event is networking heaven. 

We always get the best headliners. More on this year’s star below! 

And finally, you get to support GEEARS’ work, which makes you a member of a high-impact community who use their diverse resources and talents to help every young child in Georgia thrive. We are policymakers and philanthropists, early educators, parents and caregivers, and advocates. We come from all walks of life, but we share a passionate commitment to our state’s children, their families, and the professionals who educate and care for them. 

Three of GEEARS’ Most Exciting Recent Endeavors  

With the help of GEEARS’ advocacy, many Georgia legislators have become well-informed and impassioned about the importance of early childhood education. The evidence? At the end of the 2023 legislative session, House Speaker Jon Burns created the House Working Group on Early Childhood Education. A few weeks ago, GEEARS’ Senior Policy Manager for Early Childhood Education, Jessica Woltjen, testified before the Working Group, along with nine fellow advocates, all affiliated with the GEEARS-founded Georgia Infant-Toddler Coalition. We’re confident that our message and data will influence the policy recommendations the Working Group issues before the 2024 session. 

While GEEARS is proud of our team of policy advocates, data analysts, storytellers, and community leaders, we know that our wonky work is nothing if it’s not informed by the stakeholders in the trenches—the teachers, child care providers, preschool directors, and parents and caregivers who are working with Georgia’s youngest children every day. That’s why GEEARS conducts ongoing dialogue with these populations via surveys, focus groups, and, recently, a Human-Centered Design Workshop in which compensated teachers from across the State spent a day communing with each other, devising brilliant solutions for early childhood’s many challenges, and fueling GEEARS’ advocacy for a long time to come. 

This year, GEEARS launched the first annual Early Childhood Checkup, a high-level snapshot of how well Georgia is meeting the needs of our youngest children and their families. This substantial yet digestible reference helps policymakers, community leaders, and others measure progress in three categories: Early Learning, Health and Well-being, and Family Supports. We’ve already seen our fellow early childhood professionals and allies use 2023’s Checkup to fuel their advocacy, to refine their services for families with young children, to assess the past, and to strategize for the future. The Checkup’s release each January will be an illuminating check-in for all of us in the early childhood space—a chance to collectively celebrate successes, mobilize around our setbacks, and learn from the results.

Three Reasons You’ll be Delighted by our Luncheon’s Headliner, Jen Hatmaker

As a mother of five, Jen has been around the early childhood block many times and she has much wit and wisdom to share about her resilience in the face of its challenges. As a Texan mother of five, she’s an entertaining and irreverent yarn-spinner. Her luncheon program is sure to be right up GEEARS’ alley, which is to say, we’ll laugh, we’ll cry, and we’ll devour our dessert while doing it.

Just like everyone at GEEARS, Jen is a big literacy champion. Take this excerpt from her lovely blog, Books, A Love Story: “Not to get too science-y, but reading is also a known accelerant for creativity, health, empathy, vocabulary, mental wellness, sleep quality, and even longevity. Reading makes us better. It is medicine for our minds and lives.”

Jen infuses everything she produces, from her books to her podcast to her “Me Courses,” with a fierce commitment to equity, an openness to the voices and stories of all, and the chutzpah to reimagine the world. For instance, during a conversation with author and social justice scholar, Dr. Monique Morris, Jen said, “I think it’s the expansiveness of this systemic inequality that keeps a lot of people paralyzed and just sidelined thinking, Well, I’m just a person. But I really like what you just said, ‘We are the systems.’ We can break a system down to the granular level and look at it in terms of policy by policy, person by person, choice by choice. It can be dissected, and it can be re-imagined. This is not impossible.”

At GEEARS, we believe this, too. But we need your support to make our mission possible for Georgia families. That’s why we urge you to join us at our annual luncheon. Together, we’ll celebrate GEEARS’ accomplishments and poise ourselves for our next busy and productive year. 

And don’t forget about all that networking, laughing + crying, and dining. That part will be stellar, too!  Click here today to reserve your annual luncheon tickets or table!

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