Center for Business Champions

Business leaders can play a significant role in supporting the current and future workforce through effective early childhood development programs and policies.

The Center for Business Champions supports early childhood development leaders and advocates around the world in building effective and lasting partnerships with business leaders. These partnerships will contribute to a productive current and future workforce and economy, through investments in early childhood development that give children a strong foundation for success.

Creating Win-Win Partnerships Between Business and ECD Leaders

As compelling – and often unexpected – champions, business leaders can dramatically increase attention to and resources for giving young children a strong start in life. This change will result in positive short- and long-term impacts on their employees, companies, communities, and nations.

Early childhood development (ECD) and business leaders often face challenges in building lasting and effective partnerships.  However, demonstrated success shows that with the right support, both groups can work together to build networks of business champions who will use their array of resources – political, reputational, organizational, financial – to support current workforce productivity and put their country’s children on the path to success in school and in life.

By building partnerships with business to advance early childhood development worldwide, we’re building a brighter future for everyone.

Our Goal

The Center for Building Business Champions for Early Childhood Development aims to become the leading authority and resource for creating and strengthening ECD-business linkages, networks, and partnerships. We accomplish this through:


Evidence-based framework for creating networks of business champions.


Online workshop series to provide foundational information and skills, and presentations to private sector executives about the business case for investing in early childhood development to strengthen the current and future workforce.


Tailored consulting and advising to leaders in individual countries on strategy development, message development, business network design, business outreach and engagement, action plan creation, and other services.

Support to business champions in understanding the ECD sector and opportunities to become engaged consistent with their company culture.


A community of ECD leaders for sharing ideas, experiences, and resources.


The Importance of Business Champions

“Private Sector Foundation Uganda — including our late CEO — and I worked closely with Dr. Watson to create Early Steps Program – Phase II – Mobilizing Business Champions for Children to engage our business members and policymakers in supporting early childhood.

She was a tremendous collaborator in helping shape our message to convey the business case for investing in young children. We appreciated her visits to plan with us and speak to our business members.  She respected our expertise while also bringing us information and ideas from around the world.

Early Steps had a big impact, helping to put early childhood into our national plan for the first time and getting businesses to be more family-friendly, culminating into propositions to improve early childhood through private sector solutions. I hope other countries will work with Dr. Watson to create their own business champions!”

– Godwin Othieno, former Deputy Program Manager, Private Sector Foundation Uganda

“We were delighted to work with Dr. Sara Watson in launching ReadyNation Ro, a partner organization to ReadyNation International. Our mission is “the promotion of coherent and adequate  public policies and innovative solutions, addressed to the community of business people and decision-makers, which will generate effective investments in the development of quality, inclusive early education services in Romania.

Working  closely with  Romanian Business Leaders and  Romanian-American Chamber of Commerce, the most active business organizations in Romania, and other partners, from public and private sector as well,  we carried out a number of successful activities to communicate the business case for early childhood and build business support. This type of collaboration between the business and early childhood sectors had never been attempted in Romania, and based on our experience, we are sure other countries can do this as well.

While our initial plans were derailed by the COVID pandemic, this work can have a big impact and we are eager to re-start.”

– Carmen Lica, Executive Director Centrul Step by Step; Board of Directors, International Step-by-Step Association; Board of Directors, ReadyNation Ro

About Sara Watson

A headshot of Sara Watson, smiling

Dr. Sara Watson is Director of the Center for Business Champions. She is the only expert in the world who has worked in many U.S. states and cities, at the U.S. national level, and with partners in several countries to create networks of business champions for early childhood.

Sara founded and was the National and then Global Director of ReadyNation/ ReadyNation International, designing, fundraising for and leading the joint organization for 14 years.  Her hands-on work included personally persuading more than a thousand executives to join campaigns for early childhood investments, and supporting them to take action. She worked with local partners in Brazil, Australia, Romania and Uganda to create their own networks of business champions for early childhood.

Sara has spoken at more than 15 international meetings of ECD and business leaders on how to build partnerships between the sectors.  She led the organization of more than a dozen national (U.S.) and two Global Business Summits on Early Childhood and the first European Business Forum on Early Childhood for audiences of business executives.

Sara also co-chaired ECDAN’s Advocacy Task Force in 2016-2018.  Before creating ReadyNation, she led The Pew Charitable Trusts’ national advocacy campaign for pre-K.  Dr. Watson is now an independent consultant and the founder and principal of Watson Strategies, LLC. She serves in a consulting capacity with CE International.

Sara holds Master of Public Policy and Ph.D. degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School.  More information, including a complete list of presentations and publications, is at

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