Early Education is Key To Texas Economic Future | United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

Early Education is Key To Texas Economic Future

A Chat With Robert Kaplan, President and CEO of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank

Securing a strong economy for the future starts with the tiniest Texans, says Robert S. Kaplan, President and CEO of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank.

“We’re starting too late,” he said. “If I had to say one priority, let’s reemphasize zero to five.”

Kaplan stressed the importance of investing in early education programs at United Way’s Second Tuesday luncheon in October. Moderated by Fluor Corporation Chairman and CEO David T. Seaton, the event took place at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank in front of an audience of over a hundred United Way donors.

With a growing population and strong economy, Texas is thriving, Kaplan acknowledged. But solutions around education are needed for continued growth in the state. “The U.S. lags the world in education, and in Texas, we lag the U.S.”

Read more: Taking the Long View: Creating a Better Future for Our Children and Grandchildren, Essay by President Robert S. Kaplan

“One in every three children in Dallas is growing up in poverty,” Kaplan continued. “They start first grade behind grade level and they never catch up. So we should be beefing up reading in children zero to five and in pre-K. It’s a great investment.”

Kaplan serves on the board of The Commit Partnership, a United Way partner working to ensure all North Texas students receive an education that prepares them for college and careers. And while Kaplan is well versed on the educational benefits of high-quality pre-K programs, he made his case strictly from an economic standpoint.

“This might be a nice thing to do, and it is. But we aren’t suggesting it just for that. If you want a more prosperous state, we’re all going to make more money, have better health, better welfare, a better social system, less social unrest. We’d be investing in these things.”

Kaplan challenged those in the audience to find solutions to some of these issues by rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.

“Pick something in your community that you have a passion for. It could be early childhood literacy, poverty, a lack of food availability. Pick one thing, find a nonprofit in your community that’s working on it and get involved,” he urged. “I think that will make a big difference.”


United Way of Metropolitan Dallas treats 360 degrees of need. We tackle complex social problems by surrounding North Texas with programs that make real progress in the areas of Education, Income and Health: the essential components of a thriving community. By 2020, we’ll move 250,000 North Texans out of poverty, give thousands the tools to lead healthy, productive lives and ensure that 60% of students graduate with the skills to succeed in whatever comes next. We only invest in our local area and have been a trusted community partner for over 90 years. But we can’t do it alone. With your support, we can lift up those in need and create hope for a better tomorrow.