In Partnership with The Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund, LENA will bring its “talk pedometer” technology to 300 children. 

April 2, 2021 | For Immediate Release

For further information, contact:
Ivan Ross, Marketing Manager
ivanross@lena.org

Washington, D.C. — The Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund and national nonprofit LENA have announced a partnership to bring LENA’s one-of-a-kind “talk pedometer” technology and practice-based coaching to over 50 child care settings in Washington, D.C. In addition, LENA will conduct an evaluation comparing the language environments of family child care settings to those of child care centers, assessing the program’s impact on children’s social and emotional health in participating settings. 

The Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund awarded LENA a $150,000 grant to implement LENA Grow™ in family child care (FCC) settings and child care center classrooms in Washington. LENA Grow is a research-based professional development program that couples LENA feedback with coaching sessions to help child care providers increase interactions to improve the language development of the children in their care over the course of 10 weeks. Once a week, a small LENA device is worn by children to capture and then automatically quantify their language environment throughout the day. LENA’s software then automatically assesses each child’s day and produces simple feedback reports that help adults better understand children’s language needs and more effectively adapt their communication strategies. Research shows that the amount of responsive interaction experienced during their earliest years is one of the most predictive metrics of child outcomes and school readiness. LENA’s conversational turns measure has been linked to brain structure and function, as well as their IQ in adolescence. 

“We know LENA improves school readiness for children by supporting rich language environments, but with this generous grant from The Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund we will also confirm spillover impact on socio-emotional health,” said Dr. Steve Hannon, President and CEO of LENA. “Their support allows us to immediately increase the quality of child care for children in Washington, D.C., while more deeply exploring how LENA’s focus on adult-child interactions can positively affect key measures like attachment, initiative, and self-control.” 

LENA has set a goal of impacting 100,000 children annually by 2024, which would set the stage for the organization to continue scaling on the way to serving millions of infants and toddlers around the world who would benefit from richer language environments. 

“LENA’s capacity to truly move the needle of early childhood outcomes aligns so well with our approach of focusing resources where they can have the greatest impact,” said Eliot Brenner, Executive Director of The Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund. “We are excited to establish this relationship.” 

In addition to providing professional development for child care providers and creating a model for wider implementation of LENA’s technology in Washington, LENA will conduct an evaluation comparing the language environments of FCC settings to those of child care centers. A recent report published by LENA, Inside Early Talk, revealed early indications of disparities between how many back-and-forth interactions children experience in the two settings: 

  • In center-based care, children experience an average of 15 conversational turns per hour, well below LENA’s benchmark of 40 conversational turns per hour. 20% of children in child care centers are in language isolation, experiencing fewer than five turns per hour for the vast majority of their day. 
  • In FCC environments, on the other hand, children experience an average of 25 conversational turns per hour.

Dr. Jill Gilkerson, LENA’s Chief Research and Evaluation Officer, said, “Our partnership with The Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund will give us the opportunity to delve deeper into the important differences between early language environments in family child care settings and child care centers, and to gather data from a much larger sample.” 

Anyone who would like to learn more about the partnership or to inquire about participating in the project can reach out to Katharine Correll, LENA’s Principal of Philanthropic Partnerships, at Anyone who would like to learn more about the partnership or to inquire about participating in the project can reach out to Katharine Correll, LENA’s Principal of Philanthropic Partnerships, at KatharineCorrell@lena.org. 


About LENA

LENA is a 501(c)(3) public charity based in Boulder, Colorado. Its mission is to accelerate language development in children birth to three, in order to improve their cognitive, social, and emotional health and to close opportunity gaps. Used by researchers and clinicians all over the world, LENA technology measures a child’s language environment and provides vital feedback to parents and professionals in programs dedicated to close the language, learning, and opportunity gap for children. For more information, please visit LENA.org. 

About The Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund

The Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund seek to improve lives by advancing research and training in neuroscience, children’s health, medicine, and education. It is comprised of three foundations whose interests reflect the passions and experiences of the Klingenstein family. Although the focus of each foundation differs, together they aim to improve every person’s health, well-being, and education, particularly those most in need. For more information, please visit klingenstein.org.