TMW Center launches bilingual resources to advance brain development for children

Father reading to a baby

The PNC Foundation today awarded a $3.3 million grant to the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health at the University of Chicago to launch “Any Time is 3Ts Time,” a campaign designed to empower parents with knowledge and skills to enhance their infants’ and toddlers’ cognitive development. The grant is supported through PNC Grow Up Great®, a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

Developed by the TMW Center from early education research led by pediatric otolaryngologist Dana Suskind, MD, “Any Time is 3T’s Time” is built on the 3Ts – Tune In, Talk More and Take Turns – a simple tool that helps parents make the most of everyday interactions with their young children. The campaign will provide online and print materials to parents through a network of community partners, particularly in underserved neighborhoods. The free, easy-to-use resources on will become available in early 2020 and will eventually include access to an interactive web-based 3Ts app and Spanish-language versions of the entire campaign.

“We recognized an opportunity to develop high-quality, early educational resources for families with children under age three,” said Sally McCrady, chair and president, PNC Foundation. “Now, with proven research from the TMW Center, we are able to support their effort to make new resources accessible to millions of parents and caregivers across the country.”

The grant will also support TMW Center’s roll out Let’s Talk!, a parent group program designed for deeper 3Ts engagement with real-time coaching and in-person sessions. The group program will debut in Chicago in early January and later extend to other PNC Grow Up Great supported early education programs in St. Louis, Lexington, Washington D.C. and Houston.

“We know from science just how important the first three years of life are to a child’s developing brain. We’ve seen first-hand in our own research what a positive impact parents can have in this process,” said Suskind, who is a Professor of Surgery and Co-director of the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health. “We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with the PNC Foundation to enable more parents and families to apply unique science-based practices that lead to enriched language environments and conversational interactions.”

PNC Foundation’s support for Suskind’s work in early education began in 2014 with a $3 million grant to support a five-year study of TMW-Home Visiting, a program designed to help parents build their children’s vocabularies for school readiness. Preliminary results in the TMW Center study reveal that TMW parents improved their toddler’s language environments by increasing conversational turns almost four times more than parents in the control group. These findings are particularly meaningful because they mirror new and emerging research, which points to the importance of conversational turn-taking in building a child’s language and cognitive skills, ultimately leading to stronger skill formation.

“Our strategic alliance with the TMW Center enables Chicago to lead the effort in creating long-term positive impact for tens of thousands of young children across our communities,” said Scott Swanson, PNC regional president for Illinois. “Access to high-quality early education and resources is critical not only for a child’s success in school and life, but helps strengthen and enhance the trajectory for a productive workforce.”

Building on the success of TMW-Home Visiting, Let’s Talk!, shares the science of foundational brain development, teaches the 3Ts of Tune In, Talk More and Take Turns, and a host of other strategies, and provides participants with goal-setting guidance and real-time coaching. It will debut as a pilot program in Chicago in collaboration with Metropolitan Family Services, a local organization supported by the PNC Foundation and its Grow Up Great initiative.

“One of the most important investments we can make in families is in their ability to ensure children’s educational readiness,” says Ric Estrada, president and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services. “As a longtime provider of quality early learning services, we know language development is foundational for children’s success. We are honored to partner in this effort.”

Dana L. Suskind, MD

Dana Suskind, MD

Dana Suskind, MD, is a pediatric otolaryngologist who specializes in hearing loss and cochlea implantation, and the founder and director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative.

Learn more about Dr. Suskind