Welcome to Light Up Learning

Build a Brain. Build a Life. Build a Community.

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Light Up Learning - October 22

Light Up Learning - Studer Community Institute Fundraiser

Each year the Studer Community Institute hosts a series of events, to raise awareness and funding to support our mission to improve the quality of life in our community. 

Light Up Learning is our signature event, set for Oct. 22, 2020!

The Light Up Learning fundraiser supports the Institute’s work to make our community an Early Learning City by working together in three key areas:


— Brain development education for Escambia County mothers within 48 hours of childbirth.

— Parent and family outreach and education to help children living within our county’s pockets of poverty.

— Supporting partnerships with the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and other partners to bring research-backed interventions to our community.

Our special guest this year will be Dr. Ronald Ferguson, founder of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University, and creator of “The Basics.” The event will include live music, early learning inspired food, live and silent auctions, and more.

Research tells us 85% of the human brain is built in the first 3 years of life; 90-95 percent is built by age 5. Making the most of that time is crucial for every child, but it is especially important in Escambia County, which state education data indicates has a kindergarten readiness rate of 47 percent (as of 2019, the most recently available data). 

Studer Community Institute’s tools and programs to build an Early Learning City are informed by research-backed strategies to help parents understand why it is important to talk and interact more with their children, and how that is the key to building a brain, building a life and building a community.

Your gift stays local. Every dollar stays in Pensacola to support early brain development for our children. 

About Studer Community Institute

Our Work

 Since 2017, SCI has been working to change the trajectory of children in Escambia County. The Brain Bag is our signature program, and we have now added a video lesson component based on our partnership with the University of Chicago’s TMW Center for Early Learning and Public Health.

Jay Brown’s daughter, Lucy, is a Brain Bag baby, and he and his wife are grateful for the gift. “The Brain Bags were such a nice thing to receive. My wife just mentioned to someone that new babies, in fact, now DO come with instructions!” Jay shared.

 Domonique Murry found it a critical help for her son, Caiden Cleveland. 

“The Brain Bag helped me understand the importance of talking to my baby, reading to him, singing and making eye contact,” said Murry, 27, a mother of three. “It is a good tool to help mothers help their babies develop. It helps me form a bond after birth.”

The University of Chicago was our partner in a two-year research project reaching women in Escambia County. That research shows a video lesson can help moms learn important information about how talking, reading, singing and playing from the beginning days of an infant’s life, can lay the foundation for healthy brain development and set a path for school readiness and a bright future. 


Parent Outreach. Our partnership with Area Housing Commission to host weekly parenting classes in some of the pockets of greatest need in our community. Since we began, 240 parents, grandparents and family members have attended our sessions at Attucks and Moreno courts and Oakwood Terrace, getting valuable information and coaching about why reading, talking, singing and playing every day from the very beginning of a child’s life is important to giving that child a good chance for a great start in school.

 Our goal this year is to double-down on that promising research and spread it across our community, equipping parents to do more for their children. To do that, we’ve added:


The Basics Pensacola. SCI is a local affiliate of the Boston Basics Network founded at the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University. The Basics Pensacola are five, fun, and simple ways that every family can benefit children from all backgrounds. It includes video lessons, text messaging, and curriculum designed to teach parents, grandparents, and caregivers these five basic concepts and how to implement them. 


Sibling Brain Builders: In partnership with five local schools serving at-risk communities, SCI has enlisted older siblings to help younger siblings and students by reading together. Early results show it is boosting reading fluency for the older siblings and exposing younger children to much-needed focused reading and interaction time.


Why is all of this focus on early years learning important? 

School readiness has a huge influence on school completion rates — and that is something that matters a great deal to a person’s future job earnings.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that a high school dropout earns an average of $21,023, compared to $31,283 for a high school graduate, and $58,613 for someone with a bachelor’s degree.

If we want a community that is prosperous and vital, we need to invest in our children to ensure they have the best foundation possible — for school and life.


Our Sponsors

Founding Sponsors

Builder Sponsor 

Framer Sponsors 


Planner Sponsors

Baptist Health Care 

Gulf Power Company

Highpointe Hotel Corporation

Morette Construction

Navy Federal

Pensacola Beach RV Park

Torgerson Causey Insurance Services

In-Kind Supporters 

Alsco Linens
Classic City Catering
Marty Stanovich, Emcee
Vista Event Production