Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative?

The Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) is a major investment to drive transformation in U.S. early childhood education. The Initiative is supported by a $35.5 million gift from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation, one of the largest gifts ever given to a university for early childhood education advancement.

What is the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H)?

ELS@H (pronounced “Elsa”) is a study being run by the Zaentz Initiative with the goal of finding out how the different types of places where young children spend their time relate to how they learn and grow. Ultimately the study will include 5,000 children and their caregivers from across Massachusetts.

Who else is helping to run the study?

A Massachusetts-based research firm, Abt Associates, is partnering with researchers at Harvard to conduct the study.

Which families will be part of the study?

The study team has randomly selected over 100 Massachusetts communities and is hopeful that the parents of every three- and four-year-old from those communities will participate in the study. If your community has been selected, study team members will be going door to door to invite parents of three- and four-year-olds to participate.

What does involvement in the study look like for families?

Our researchers from Harvard would like the children and families who become part of the study to continue to participate for at least the next three years, beginning in the fall of 2017 and continuing as the child goes on to school. Twice a year, children will complete some activities with the study team and parents will also be asked to complete surveys periodically.

What are the benefits of being part of the study?

The results of the study will provide valuable information on how to best support the early development of young children to the people who care most about them: parents, caregivers, program developers and other decision makers.

Will the information collected on children be kept private?

Yes. The researchers at Harvard will keep all information collected about children, families and caregivers private in strict adherence to all applicable laws and regulations. Harvard will never include the names of children, families or caregivers in any reports or any other study findings. Additionally, the researchers at Harvard will not report any of the data they collect as part of the study to any government agency, and they will never ask about the legal status of anyone in the study. However, if those running the study learn that a child is in danger, by law, they must report that information.

Who should parents contact if they wish to participate in the study?

Please contact the team by phone (1-844-865-2196) or via email ( or visit the ELS@H website:

Is the Early Learning Study at Harvard on social media?

Yes, you can find the Early Learning Study at Harvard on Facebook at