The Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University launched in 2005 as a University-wide endeavor based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Its purpose was to focus academic research, public education, and innovative outreach activities on a critically important national challenge: achieving excellence with equity between children from different racial, ethnic, and social class backgrounds. AGI research and annual conferences built new knowledge and fostered communication and cooperation not only among concerned researchers, but also between researchers, policy makers, and education practitioners.

In 2011, the annual AGI conference was on how parenting practices affect achievement. A theme that emerged was that caregiving practices in the first few years of life are fundamentally important for early learning and brain development and key factors in kindergarten readiness. Data were presented showing that cognitive skill gaps in the US between children from different backgrounds were already large by the age of 24 months.

The ultimate impact of that conference was creation of a nonprofit organization named The Basics, Inc., aimed at reaching whole communities with information, social reinforcement, and reminders, focused on five key principles of early childhood caregiving that a national advisory committee helped distill from the scientific literature.

The core work of the AGI is based now outside of Harvard, led still by AGI faculty director Ron Ferguson. The Basics, Inc. leads the Basics Learning Network in which dozens of communities in the US and abroad are helping families seize the opportunity that the science shows they have to boost early learning and brain development. Visit to learn more.

Please find a historical archive of the website at this link.