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Action for Early Learning

Action for Early Learning
Our Community. Our Neighborhood. Our Kids.
Education Begins at Birth - Make sure every child is ready for success!

The Action for Early Learning Initiative is a Drexel-led collaboration working to support equitable access to quality early childhood education for all children in Philadelphia. AFEL’s goals include Kindergarten readiness and reading at grade level by the end of third grade so that children are successful in school and beyond. Since 2014, AFEL has sought to connect children and families to high quality childcare by (1) improving the quality of ECE in the community through AFEL’s Alliance of Childcare Providers, as well as (2) increasing families’ access to high-quality ECE, while building awareness of the importance of quality ECE through AFEL’s Family Ambassador Program. AFEL is part of Drexel’s civic engagement strategy which seeks to provide children with quality educational opportunities from cradle to career.


AFEL has partnered with ExCITe since its inception through ongoing projects to build and strengthen early science and STEAM among childcare providers and families. AFEL’s goals fit well with ExCITe’s mission to provide more equitable access to STEAM experiences for students, supporting AFEL’s long-term goals of children being Kindergarten ready and reading at grade level by the end of third grade. Through these shared goals, AFEL has partnered with ExCITe on several projects, including:

  • Website Design for Alliance Providers, free website re-designs or new designs for Alliance Providers, since 2016, a partnership with Drexel Civic Technology at the Excite Center
  • Maker Space Workshops for ECE Professionals, promoting hands-on learning through Maker Space curriculum, a partnership with the Academy of Natural Sciences
    Family Science Night, an annual event showcasing early science projects from AFEL’s Alliance of Childcare Provider students and educators, a partnership with Academy of Natural Sciences
  • Child Development Associate Certification, a free course for childcare workers to achieve their CDA certification, which supports improving quality ratings at childcare sites, a partnership with the Black Child Development Institute
  • Super Saturday ECE Trainings, an annual all-day series of workshops to provide PA Quality Assurance System continuing education credits for early childhood educators, a partnership with First Up

AFEL & ExCITe working with children using K'nex


AFEL outcomes to improve equitable access to quality ECE since 2014 include:

  • 25 childcare providers (caring for approximately 750 children) participating in the AFEL Alliance of Childcare Providers, working toward ECE quality improvement
  • 57% of childcare providers achieving a high quality rating
  • 35% increase in the number of West Philadelphia children enrolled in high quality care
  • 54% of parents/caregivers understand what quality care looks like (up from 47% in 2014)


AFEL released a Five-Year Report: Strengthening Children and Families through Circles of Support, which details the process, challenges, and accomplishments that have taken AFEL from a small early childhood education quality improvement program to a place-based community-change initiative. Below are links to the Full Report and Executive Summary.
AFELFiveYearReportExSummary (

AFELFiveYearReport (

AFEL Science Night

AFEL Key Partners

  • Academy of Natural Sciences
  • Children’s Literacy Initiative
  • Drexel School of Education
  • Early Learning Resource Center Region 18
  • Fab Youth Philly
  • First Up
  • Read by Fourth Campaign
  • School District of Philadelphia
  • Sesame Street in Communities

AFEL is a grant-funded program of Drexel’s University and Community Partnerships with support from the following foundations: PNC Grow Up Great, William Penn Foundation, United Way, Vanguard Strong Start for Kids and the US Department of Education.


Dornsife calendar of events:
West Philly Promise Neighborhood:
University and Community Partnerships:


For more information email: