First 1000 Days

Recent neuroscience research has shown that 80% of the foundation of a child’s brain development occurs in the first 1000 days of life. These first three years impact a child’s health, learning, and executive function for the rest of their life. The Itasca Project recognizes that multiple factors drive healthy brain development, such as adequate health and nutrition, exposure to language, parent bonding, mitigation of stress, and more. Deep inequities exist in accessing these conditions and experiences. As a result, disparities across socioeconomic status first appear at just 18 months, as parents and families with low incomes need to focus on basic needs and babies are exposed to less enriching environments.

Each year, 34,000 children are born in the Minneapolis-St Paul region; approximately 10,000 face significant challenges and risks due to the conditions they face. To engage employers in strategies to better support families and children across our region, the Itasca Project is:

Sharing the latest research and best practices

  • Itasca’s First 1000 Days report (full report, executive summary, infographic and news release)
  • Case studies of companies leading on early childhood development
    • Leading by Example: Case Studies | U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (
    • Companies Offering Flexible & Remote Schedules to Employees (
  • University of Minnesota's Masonic Institute of Developing Brain, a new, interdisciplinary center for world-renowned research on early childhood development -
  • Additional research on the importance of early childhood development
  • Developing a toolkit for employers to pursue family-friendly practices and policies – COMING SOON