LENA Announces $12 Million in Philanthropic Commitments To Scale Its Professional Development Program for Early Childhood Educators


For more information, contact:
Ivan Ross, Senior Senior Marketing Manager

In partnership with the Valhalla Foundation, the Overdeck Family Foundation, and others, LENA will bring its “talk pedometer” technology to more child care centers and pre-K classrooms.

Louisville, Colo. — LENA, a national nonprofit on a mission to transform children’s futures through early talk technology and data-driven programs, announced today a total philanthropic commitment of $12 million toward its national scaling strategy.

Recent gifts from the Valhalla Foundation and the Overdeck Family Foundation, along with others, are powering LENA to enhance its technology, support existing early childhood quality initiatives, further research child- and teacher-level outcomes for improved policy and decision making, and equitably impact more families. These investments will help LENA meet its goal of serving over 100,000 children annually by 2024, an important milestone on the way to impacting millions of children around the world who would benefit from enriched language environments.

“Over the past 18 months, LENA has been working diligently with our funders to develop the right strategy to bring LENA to scale,” said Steve Hannon, PhD,
President and CEO of LENA. “We know how difficult it is for evidence-based programs to reach many of those who would benefit most, and we’re pleased to partner with investors like Overdeck Family Foundation and Valhalla Foundation to ensure LENA’s contribution to the improvement of early childhood quality is felt deeply nationwide.”

A major focus for these investments is LENA Grow, LENA’s job-embedded professional development program for early childhood educators of infant, toddler, and Pre-K students. The program is designed to help professional caregivers improve children’s language environments across child care settings. Research shows that conversational turns between adults and very young children are one of the most predictive metrics of child outcomes and school readiness. The amount of interactive conversation children experience during the first few years of life is related to their brain structure and function, their socioemotional development, as well as their IQ in adolescence.

LENA’s “talk pedometer” technology, called the LENA device, is a wearable recorder that collects a full day of a child’s audio environment. Once a recording has been made, LENA’s software translates the audio from its LENA devices into data-rich, actionable reports for teachers, child care providers, and parents. The reports include information on the number of adult words, child vocalizations, and back-and-forth interactions, or conversational turns, between adults and children. This objective feedback helps adults to better understand children’s language needs and to more effectively adapt their communication strategies.

Funding will also allow LENA to expand program implementations on the local level, with the help of partners like Voqal and the Daniels Fund in Colorado, as well as the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund in Washington, D.C.

To date, LENA Grow has served over 13,000 children across more than 60 initiatives across the U.S., as well as in Australia and New Zealand.

About LENA

LENA is a national nonprofit on a mission to transform children’s futures through early talk technology and data-driven programs. Used by researchers, clinicians, community organizations, and early childhood education organizations all over the world, LENA technology measures a child’s language environment and provides vital feedback to parents and professionals. LENA envisions a world where every child benefits from positive relationships full of responsive interactions.

About Valhalla Foundation

Valhalla Foundation, based in Woodside, Calif., drives measurable and meaningful improvement in outcomes that matter across four areas of impact: Early Childhood Development, K12 Education, Medical Research & Talent, and Environmental Innovation. For more information, visit valhalla.org.

About Overdeck Family Foundation

Overdeck Family Foundation is based in New York. The organization’s grantmaking and strategic support focus on unlocking innovation, evidence, and growth opportunities for organizations and researchers that are committed to accelerating key academic and socioemotional outcomes for all children. For more information, visit overdeck.org.