On Monday, the Kansas City Chiefs announced Deidre Anderson-Barbee, former CEO of EarlystART, as their recipient of the 2023 Inspire Change Changemaker Award. This award recognizes individuals who are making a difference in their communities through social justice work, either individually or as part of a non-profit organization, across each of the NFL's 32 club markets. Anderson-Barbee was recognized during pregame at the club's Week 16 Inspire Change game as Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt surprised her with a package, including a $10,000 donation from the NFL Foundation, paid directly to a non-profit organization of her choice, as well as tickets to attend Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, Nevada, in February.
Deidre Anderson-Barbee served as CEO of EarlystART for 11 years (2013-23). EarlystART is an early childhood education center that ensures school readiness of children from low-income families, while also providing health, nutrition, and social services unique to each family's needs, directly making an impact under the Inspire Change education pillar.
Throughout her tenure as CEO, Anderson-Barbee led a team of staff and educators, all of which were committed to ongoing professional development and credentialing that met or exceeded early educator professional standards. Over 70 percent of staff at EarlystART identified as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), reflecting the diversity of those served, with shared experiences and ethnic backgrounds to meet the needs of students and families. As a result, 90 percent of EarlystART students were kindergarten ready and more than 90 percent of students met or exceeded benchmarks in cognitive skills. Anderson-Barbee not only expanded the reach and impact of EarlystART but created a culture change in the Kansas City community on the importance of early childhood education. She has connected and collaborated with other non-profits, as well as county and city agencies to bring awareness to the need of early childhood education in Kansas City.
"Receiving the Inspire Change Changemaker nomination is an incredible honor," Anderson-Barbee said. "I have always tried to do the greatest good I can to ensure all children have access to high quality education and to use my voice to add just enough tension that meaningful change results. Educating young children and supporting their families is not only good for them, but it makes our community vibrant and strong. Thank you for this recognition that helps to build awareness of how critical early childhood education is, particularly for those that need us to be their voice and to make actionable change on their behalf."
Recently, Anderson-Barbee announced she will continue this passion of early childhood education as she begins a new role in 2024 as the Executive Director of StartingEARLY, whose goal is to support multiple equitable pathways for workforce development to meet the diverse needs of current and future early childhood educators. The work of StartingEARLY stems from a desire to listen and act upon the goals and aspirations families and providers have for young children. The vision is to create significant and sustainable improvements in the quality and effectiveness of early childhood care and education systems by leveraging a network of strategic partners across a diverse mixed delivery system.
The heart of the work in StartingEARLY lies in building the capacity of the early childhood workforce and advocating for change that creates expanded access, equity and quality within the field of early childhood education. Through StartingEARLY efforts, the organization works to remove structural barriers that have historically marginalized the early learning sector, while centering provider and family voices on creating actionable change. In her role as Executive Director, Anderson-Barbee will continue to shift the narrative on the early childhood workforce and provide meaningful advocacy.
"We are thrilled to announce Deidre Anderson-Barbee as the recipient of the club's 2023 Changemaker Award," Chiefs President Mark Donovan said. "In her 11 years as CEO at EarlystART, she has not only positively impacted the lives of the youngest residents right here in Kansas City, but she also has placed an emphasis on helping the families of those students. We are also thrilled to celebrate Deidre's dedication to early childhood education as she transitions to working with StartingEARLY, a non-profit focusing on the educators needed to ensure the children in Kansas City are best equipped for academic success. As a club, we appreciate the NFL's Inspire Change platform that provides an opportunity to promote the often behind-the-scenes work done in our community."
For more information on the 2023 Changemaker recipients, visit NFL.com/causes/inspire-change/changemakers.