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Blog Mar 29, 2016

Board Profile: Jackie Bezos

Jackie Bezos 9-2013Jackie Bezos is the President and Co-Founder of the Bezos Family Foundation, whose investments in research, public awareness and programs seek to elevate the field of education and improve life outcomes for children. Jackie is part of the driving force behind Vroom, a national effort to highlight the science underlying early brain development and empower parents to turn everyday routines into brain building moments. She joined Turnaround’s board of directors in 2015.

THE 180: When you first learned about Turnaround for Children, what about it aligned with your core beliefs?

JACKIE BEZOS: Turnaround is based on the latest science—exploring what makes the best learning opportunity for young children and the application of the science. It’s very similar to what we look at here at the Bezos Family Foundation.

THE 180: Is it fair to say you love science?

JACKIE BEZOS: Yes, I was born curious! We’re living in a very unique time where we’re able to see the science, including how a brain develops, in real time. It’s a gift to be alive right now and to help bring the science to life.

THE 180: What drew you to support Turnaround?

JACKIE BEZOS: It was definitely the Building Blocks. There are stages of development that young people go through, which Turnaround nailed with its Building Blocks for Learning. The Building Blocks help you understand how important certain skills are for a young person not only to be able to learn but to apply that learning. And while it’s important to lay the groundwork for what you will do, it’s equally important to focus on what kind of person you will become.

THE 180: As a tool, Vroom has gone viral. Why do you think that has happened?

JACKIE BEZOS: I think there’s a hunger for the science. We have often told parents what to do but not why. The science provides the why. When you distill the science down to understandable moments, parents realize that what they do with their children is critical, and that they are building their child’s brain and laying the groundwork for all future learning. From birth to five, more than 700 neural connections are made every second! The relationship between a caring adult and a child makes those connections strong. In Turnaround’s case, the staff and the teachers in a school help these neural connections become sturdy; with Vroom, it’s often a parent or caregiver.

THE 180: Are there lessons in what you have learned from building Vroom that apply to Turnaround?

JACKIE BEZOS: I think the flip side of knowing the positives of what is going on inside the developing brain is understanding the effects of adversity. There’s definitive science emerging from researchers about the importance of positive, supportive relationships. All children are born with tremendous potential—it’s up to us as a nation to provide them with opportunity.