Our First Decade of Impact

We believe to transform society, we must start by supporting the well-being of young children and their families.
Through combined efforts over the last decade, our members and affiliates work every day to generate knowledge, prepare leaders and engage others to make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of children, their families, and their communities.

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Letter from the Directors   |   Impact Stories   |   Impact Data   |   Awards   |  History   |   Worldwide Impact

From Our Leaders

For the past decade, a committed team at the Anita Zucker Center has been working to create a future in which every child experiences nurturing, responsive relationships and quality early learning experiences that create a strong foundation for future life success.

Undeniably, the impact we have is not confined to the individual — it ripples out, growing exponentially, reaching all facets of our society. By bridging the gap from research to policy and practice, we are effecting positive change around the world.

While we are certainly proud of the last 10 years, we are prepared to accomplish even more in the next decade. Working in partnership with local, state and national partners, what started as a small investment has grown into more than $43 million in grants and endowments, with continued growth on the horizon.

Our collective future depends on our children and that is why the work at the Anita Zucker Center is so critical. It is imperative that we continue onward, through our transdisciplinary approach, to ensure that every child has equitable and inclusive opportunities to grow and learn in the contexts of their families and communities.

Pat Snyder

Patricia Snyder, Ph.D.

Pat Snyder

Maureen Conroy, Ph.D.

Engaging Partners

We connect with local, state, national and international partners to collaborate and positively impact early childhood development and learning within our community and beyond.

CHILD Center for Early Learning

Gainesville’s Southwest Advocacy Group (SWAG) — in partnership with the Anita Zucker Center, O2B Kids and Head Startopened the CHILD Center for Early Learning, a model demonstration program for children and families that provides state-of-the-art early care and educational experiences. The CHILD Center is designed to support quality early learning experiences, family self-sufficiency and positive outcomes for children and families in the SWAG community.

Symposium Series

As an outcome of the 2017 UF Early Childhood National Summit Starting Ahead, Staying Ahead, the Center launched a symposium series of public discussions with internationally recognized experts in early childhood. Since 2018, these events have addressed areas of disability and early childhood policy, professionalization of the workforce, prenatal exposure to opioids, advocacy, leadership, equity and law.

A young boy laying on a colorful mat.

Preparing Leaders

We mentor tomorrow’s early childhood leaders in research, policy, advocacy and practice.

Professional Development

Through partnerships in our community, across the nation and around the world, we have developed and researched Practice-based Coaching (PBC), a recommended early childhood coaching model that helps people use effective practices to support children’s development and learning. With a four-year, $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, the PBC Data-Informed Decision-Making model is being implemented across diverse early childhood programs supporting infants, toddlers and preschoolers with or at risk for disabilities.

Beyond the Center

The Anita Zucker Center prepares tomorrow’s early childhood leaders to support young children’s health, development, learning and well-being and to advance the future of early childhood studies. Through connections with alumni, students, postdoctoral fellows and external partners, we witness the widespread impact we are making to the field beyond our Center.

A woman speaking to a young girl while sitting on the ground.

Making an Impact

We build partnerships and implement research-based solutions with caregivers, practitioners and policymakers to transform the lives of young children everywhere.

Embedded Learning

The Anita Zucker Center, through collaboration with national partners and funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, has propelled research and practice around embedded learning. Focused on children with or at risk for disabilities, the embedded learning model helps practitioners and caregivers of young children learn how to partner and support children’s learning opportunities in everyday activities and routines at home, at preschool and in the community.

Social and Emotional Learning

BEST in CLASS began in 2008 with the goal of supporting young children’s social-emotional learning and decreasing their challenging behaviors. Designed to increase the use of evidence-based practices in community-based early childhood settings, BEST in CLASS supports practitioners’ use of these practices with children during everyday learning activities.

A little boy looking at the camera and holding a wheel on a play set.

Generating Knowledge

We work to conduct and translate science to share and improve real-world practice and policy in early childhood.

Sunshine Portal

The Sunshine State Early Childhood Information Portal project, funded through the Florida Division of Early Learning in the Florida Department of Education, is developing a statewide early childhood integrated data system that includes administrative data from the Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Education and local Early Head Start and Head Start programs covering health, economic and education sectors within the early childhood mixed delivery system. The primary product is a password protected, interactive web portal that presents maps and other data visualization strategies to provide a comprehensive view of the strengths and needs within the state’s system to support data-informed decision-making among state and local policymakers.

The 3R’s of Early Learning

Our research shows there are three important processes that shape children’s development and early learning. At the Anita Zucker Center, we refer to these processes as the 3R’s of Early Learning: Relationships, Repetition, Routines ™. The 3R’s of Early Learning are important because they focus on how children learn in addition to what they learn.

Two young boys laughing and waving together.
Impact Data

From its inception and in collaboration with our partners, our Center has generated over $43M in grants and endowments. These funds have been used to advance practice and policy toward equitable and meaningful outcomes for all young children, their families and the practitioners who serve them.

We currently have


editorial appointments for Center members.

Research Funding Highlights

over $19.3 million

Embedded Instruction

over $12.5 million


over $4.1 million

Data-Informed Policymaking


Maureen Conroy, Ph.D.

Outstanding Leadership Award
Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders,
Council for Exceptional Children, 2016

Patricia Snyder, Ph.D.

Distinguished Researcher Award
Council for Exceptional Children,
Division for Research, 2021

Distinguished Professor
University of Florida, 2019

Outstanding Mentoring Award
Division for Early Childhood,
Council for Exceptional Children, 2015

Mary McLean, Ph.D.

Mary McEvoy Service to the Field Award
The Division for Early Childhood,
Council for Exceptional Children, 2015

  • The David Lawrence, Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies is established and Dr. Patricia Snyder is appointed.
  • The Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies is formally established.
  • The Institute of Education Sciences awards the Center $4.1M for an efficacy study of BEST in CLASS in preschool settings.
  • The Center, in partnership with others, is awarded a $6.5M Investing in Innovation grant in Early Childhood from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • The Institute of Education Sciences funds the country’s first early intervention postdoctoral fellowship training program at the Center.
  • The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs supports 52 Unified Early Childhood ProTeach fifth-year students and five new doctoral students with awards totaling $2.2M.
  • The Institute of Education Sciences awards the Center $3.5M for an efficacy study to examine the impact of professional development on embedded instruction.
  • The Center earns a $1.2M development and innovation grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to create a web-based version of the BEST in CLASS-PK intervention.
  • The Center is awarded $1.4M by the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences for Tools for Families, a new component of embedded instruction that focuses on how teachers can partner with families.
  • The Center partners with Florida State University and Florida’s Early Steps program to scale up Florida Embedded Practices and Intervention with Caregivers across our state for the benefit of local providers, infants and toddlers with or at risk for disabilities and their families.
Across the World

Since its inception in 2018, the A to Z’s of Early Childhood resources have been accessed by users in 89 countries.

The A to Z’s of Early Childhood began in 2018 as part of a UF initiative aimed at addressing society’s most urgent issues. This web-based information and resource hub provides quick tips and short videos on how to support young children’s development and learning. It has become an internationally recognized and trusted source for research-based information and resources designed to support caregivers, practitioners and policymakers.