Amplifying conversations, transforming early childhood


year in review decorative graphic

This time last year, I wrote about how LENA was “changing the conversation” in early childhood education. As an organization, we have set out to broaden our purview. We are determined to see our work encompass not just direct programmatic impact, but also wider educational reach and systemic impact. The early childhood education system is fragmented. Its supports are precarious. LENA’s work can be a unifier.

Suffice it to say that this new conversation is an animated one, its tenor nothing if not positive and determined!

  • People are listening. More than 100,000 people came to in 2023 to learn about the power of early talk, many of whom downloaded a resource, attended a webinar, or spread the word about conversational turns with our social media toolkit. We are in a unique position to amplify everything from improving infant and early childhood mental health to serving dual language learners to drawing connections between early childhood and the “science of reading.”
  • Organizations are engaging. We were proud to launch statewide program initiatives in Ohio, Tennessee, and Arkansas. We also welcomed so many other program partners, including Bernalillo Public Schools in New Mexico and the Early Learning Coalition of Lake County in Florida. This year, some 20,000 children and 4,000 early childhood educators participated in LENA Grow, a professional development program that integrates so well with so many program models and assessments.

    "The early childhood education system is fragmented. Its supports are precarious. LENA’s work can be a unifier."

  • Funders are responding. Earlier this year, we were thrilled to announce a generous $5 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Alongside additional gifts from the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this catalytic support shows unprecedented confidence in LENA’s capacity to fulfill its mission. We are fostering a world where every child thrives through nurturing relationships and responsive interactions.
  • Researchers are uncovering new insights. Over 30 peer-reviewed studies used LENA technology this year to unveil yet more insights into how young children experience their language environments. Combining LENA technology with advanced brain imaging, researchers have given us a glimpse at the hidden links between language and brain development.
  • Children’s lives are changing for the better. The effectiveness of LENA’s programs has been borne out in new evaluation reports showing great strides in language and literacy skills, social-emotional development, and more.

Conversational turns are powerful things, and we want every young child’s life to be full of them. That’s LENA’s vision, and in 2024 we will work toward satisfying that vision with so much momentum — as exuberant as a babbling infant, as delighted as a toddler experimenting with stringing words together, as determined as a preschooler singing their ABCs.

LENA has embarked on an innovative and inclusive design and development process that prioritizes the diverse needs and perspectives of the educators, families, and community partners we serve. With a new Community Advisory Board bringing a broadened set of perspectives, we will integrate our innovative technology, software advancements, and expanded utilization of data alongside classroom and child assessments, shaping the blueprint for LENA’s future.

However, we have long said that we are more than just technology. Real change happens through people. With unwavering enthusiasm, we anticipate the immense impact we can achieve in collaboration with our community-based partners across the U.S. and the world. Please join us as we continue this journey!

Stephen M. Hannon, PhD

Dr. Stephen M. Hannon is the President and CEO of LENA and has steered LENA through its ambitious growth, leveraging a wealth of technical and leadership skills honed over a long career spanning multiple industries. His experience has provided the foundation for LENA’s unique technology to be paired with programmatic impact felt across early childhood.

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