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We envision a community that affords every child the best start in life.

That’s why we’re actively engaged—through policy development, advocacy, evaluation, and program piloting—in creating a Minnesota that supports optimal child care and early learning. For policymakers, funders, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and others concerned with kids, we’re a bold and effective partner. For educators and families, we provide advocacy trainings and resources to get informed and involved. We invite you to work together with us on community and state-wide issues involving early childhood.

Public Policy Priorities

Think Small is uniquely positioned to advocate for improvements to Minnesota’s early care and education system. Our direct work with child care educators keeps us in tune with what’s happening in the classroom. Our interactions with state agencies allow us to see current realities and opportunities for improvement.

Our solutions center children. We aim to ensure all children birth to five have access to quality early childhood care and education, starting with those facing the greatest barriers. The single best investment the state can make is targeted early childhood investments in our most vulnerable children.

Read Think Small’s Policy Priorities for the 2023 legislative session


Early Care and Education Crisis Work Group

The Early Care and Education Crisis Work Group is a group of experts working to address the dual challenges of Minnesota’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gap and the child care shortage. Think Small co-convenes the Crisis Work Group with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.


Early Care and Education Crisis Work Group Reports

Minnesota Business for Early Learning

Minnesota Business for Early Learning is a roundtable of Minnesota business leaders advocating for Early Learning Scholarships for Minnesota’s 31,000 low-income children who can’t access high quality early learning programs.

Learn More


Advocacy Tools

Are you passionate about supporting young children and their families? Share your knowledge and perspective with policymakers.

Todd Otis Public Policy Internship

The Todd Otis Public Policy Internship is a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about Minnesota’s early learning policy and advocacy. Think Small believes that placing a priority on children and their families, through access to quality child care and early learning, is critical to closing Minnesota’s opportunity gap with the goal of eliminating the state’s achievement gap. Policy decisions that are in the best interest of children are in the best interest of communities and thus Minnesota’s future economic development. Throughout the legislative session, Think Small educates policy makers and the general public about the value of quality child care and early learning in a model driven by family choice and a variety of delivery options to best meet the needs of children and families.

About Todd Otis

Todd Otis’ lifelong advocacy career in Minnesota, and his work as a change-agent in early childhood, has had a significant and long-term positive impact on early childhood public policies, systems, and most importantly on the quality of early learning experiences for children and families. He graduated from Harvard College with a BA in History and received an MS in Journalism from Columbia University. Among many other accomplishments, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal and as a legislator in the Minnesota House of Representative for 12 years. From 2001-2011 he was President of Ready 4 K, an early education advocacy group created to build public awareness, enlist support from the business community, organize the early childhood community, and promote public policy to improve school readiness in Minnesota. In 2012 Ready-4-K merged with Think Small, where Todd served as Senior Vice President of External Relations until his retirement in 2017.

About The Internship

Think Small started the Todd Otis Public Policy Internship to recognize Todd’s contributions and build on his legacy. Our goal is to create more early learning advocates to continue Todd’s work.

The intern will work with Think Small’s policy team to advance the organization’s public policy priorities. Work varies throughout the session and will include opportunities to support grassroots and direct lobbying efforts. They will attend hearings and meetings with state legislators at the Capitol to learn first-hand about the state legislative process.

They will also support policy communications efforts by utilizing platforms such as email, social media, and the Think Small blog.

There will be opportunities to collaborate with external early education partners and learn more about Think Small’s role in early care and education.

This internship runs during the state legislative session (January-May). Applications open up in late Fall.


Long Story Short

Stories are powerful.

They are relevant, authentic, and come from the heart. Good stories about what’s happening with child care and early learning in Minnesota can help us advocate for supportive policies and raise awareness about important early learning issues. This space was created to give child care providers a place to share stories about their work on behalf of young children, and to give families an opportunity to share their child care successes and challenges with the community.

View Stories


Advocacy Resources

Think Small is committed to supporting advocates in their efforts to champion early childhood education. Our organization provides a range of resources designed to equip advocates with the knowledge and tools necessary to make a difference. Think Small is here to empower and amplify your advocacy efforts for the benefit of all children.

View Resources