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Inside Erikson | June 2023

a monthly comm(unity) newsletter

June 2023 - Welcome to the June edition of the Inside Erikson newsletter!

Happy Pride Month! 🏳️‍🌈 Erikson is excited and proud (pun intended) to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride month. The DEIBJ Council and QAF, Erikson’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, will be sharing a variety of resources throughout the month of June so that Erikson families can celebrate in a variety of ways.

This month brings many reasons to celebrate at Erikson, including two of the largest gifts that Erikson has ever received. In May, Erikson received an $8 million-dollar unrestricted gift from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott and this week received a $6 million dollar gift from John and Kathy Schreiber which will help support students. We appreciate all our supporters, donors and allies and we are grateful for any and all contributions to support our goal of creating a more just and equitable system in early childhood care and education.

Month at a Glance

LGBTQIA+ Pride Month

Caribbean American Heritage Month

African-American Music Appreciation Month

National Family Month

National Black Child Development Week (June 6-10)

World Environment Day – June 5

Race Unity Day – June 11

All Staff Meeting – June 14

Autistic Pride Day – June 18

Father’s Day – June 18

Juneteenth – June 19 (Paid Holiday – Erikson Institute will be closed)

World Refugee Day – June 20

Hajj – June 26

Eid al-Adha – June 28-29

Erikson Updates

Erikson Institute Receives $8 Million from MacKenzie Scott to Advance Equity in Early Childhood

Erikson Institute has announced an $8 million unrestricted gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. In keeping with MacKenzie Scott’s charitable vision of advancing opportunities for people in underinvested and underserved communities, the funds associated with this transformational gift will fuel Erikson’s mission of building equitable and just futures for young children, their families, and communities. The gift is a testament to the vision and work of Erikson Institute, under the leadership of President Mariana Souto-Manning, Ph.D.  Read more about this transformational gift here

New $6 Million Gift from John and Kathy Schreiber to Support Students

Erikson Institute has announced a new $6 million gift from John and Kathy Schreiber to help enroll more graduate students with diverse backgrounds and experiences who are seeking degrees in early childhood education, child development and social work. The Schreiber gift also provides critical funding for Educator Impact Grants for Erikson’s reimagined teacher education master’s degree program with a triple endorsement. The Educator Impact Grants will pay full tuition and fees for qualifying students. The first cohort of grant recipients started in May 2023. The grant requires graduates to serve young children in divested communities for at least four years. The Schreiber gift will also support future cohorts in Lake County, Illinois, where John and Kathy focus much of their philanthropic investment. Read more here

2023 Commencement Update

On May 12, Erikson held its first in-person commencement since 2019 and it was a joyful event. Held downtown at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park and featuring inspirational speeches from honorary degree recipients, Valerie Jarrett and Barbara Taylor Bowman, this year’s ceremony was one for the books. Visit to rewatch and relive the celebration. There are also photos from the event available here on Erikson’s Facebook page. Congratulations again to the class of 2023!

Baby Booklet Developed for All Chicago Families-Erikson/Fussy Baby Network Authored a Chapter

Erikson staff, in collaboration with Lurie Children’s Hospital and more than a dozen local organizations, have developed a parenting guide for distribution to all Chicago residents who have a baby at a Chicago birthing hospital. Made possible by funding through the Chicago Department of Public Health and facilitated by Dr. Mariana Glusman from Lurie Children’s Hospital, Bringing _(Name)_ Home: A Guide to Life with Your New Baby provides parents with child development information, parenting advice, and a list of resources. Copies of the guide have been distributed to birthing hospitals throughout Chicago to share with parents as they leave the hospital with their newborn. Erikson contributors to the book chapters are Dr. Linda Gilkerson and Linda Horwitz from the Fussy Baby Network, and Lisa Ferguson from the Early Math Collaborative. In the past year, over 5,000 copies have been distributed to parents and another reprint is on the way.

Upcoming Erikson Events

Drag Story Hour on June 29

To celebrate Pride Month, the DEIBJ Council will be hosting Drag Story Hour on June 29th at 6 p.m. in the Erikson Library. Bring your family out to join for story time, dance party, pictures and a FAQ session with a drag queen performer. Check your email over the next few weeks for more information.

Erikson Summer Learning Professional Development Workshops - The Power of Relationships in Child Development June 27-29 (in-person); MEME: Meaning-Making in Early Mathematics Education July 11-14 (in-person); Nurturing Math Thinking with Infants & Toddlers July 18, 20, 25 & 27 (virtual)

Summer Learning Series Seminars – Spread the Word!

This summer, Erikson Institute will offer many opportunities for early childhood professionals to hone your skills, growing your capacity to work effectively with young children and their families.

These virtual and in-person workshops are with experts are hosted by Erikson experts who will lead participants through an in-depth exploration of three different topics: The Power of Relationships (also offered in Spanish); MEME: Meaning-Making in Early Mathematics Education, and Nurturing Math Thinking with Infants, Toddler, and 2s.  Learn more here

Faculty Spotlight

Erikson Institute’s reputation in the early childhood field has been strengthened by the contributions of our world-renowned faculty. Learn more about this dynamic group and what makes them stand out.

Meet Assistant Professor, Seulki Ku

Seulki Ku

Name: Seulki Ku

What year did you start working at Erikson? 2022

I began my role as an Assistant Professor at Erikson in August 2022. Before that, I earned my Ph.D. at The Ohio State University and worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at New York University School of Medicine and Iowa State University. Throughout my academic career, my research has primarily focused on how family, neighborhood, and childcare/school contexts affect early childhood self-regulation and school readiness. My recent work has delved into the social determinants of mothers’ postpartum depression and its impact on the development of preschool-aged children’s executive functions, especially among rural, low-income families in the U.S. Looking ahead, I aim to extend my research interests by working with children and families in the Chicago community, providing support for parental mental health, parenting, and the school readiness of young children.

Of all the colleges and universities worldwide, why did you decide to teach at Erikson?

I was attracted to Erikson due to its emphasis on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, and for its commitment to preparing students to become the next generation of leaders in child development, social work, and early childhood education. These values are particularly important to me, as a foreign-born scholar, a woman of color, and a first-generation college student. In line with Erikson’s mission, I strive to support our students by providing equitable opportunities for success in class.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career at Erikson?

My commitment to mentoring graduate students, especially those identified as historically underrepresented in higher education, has always been a priority for me. My journey began during my first internship at a child and adolescent counseling center in South Korea, my home country, where I started to envision studying abroad for a Ph.D., and teaching and conducting research in higher education. As a first-generation college student, I had limited knowledge of higher education, so I had to seek mentors with that expertise outside of my family. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with numerous incredible mentors from my early 20s onward, both within and outside academia. Their guidance has been invaluable, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. The most rewarding aspect of my career at Erikson has been when my students express their appreciation for the effort I put into their professional and personal success. At the end of both the fall and spring semesters, several students reached out to thank me for my guidance, and some asked for advice on their internships and career paths. This feedback has been profoundly rewarding, and it continually reaffirms my decision to work in higher education.

What is your hidden (or secret) talent?

When I was a graduate student in Columbus, OH, I started practicing yoga and found that I enjoyed challenging my body. It enhanced my creativity and inspired me to try new things. Since then, I’ve been engaging in a variety of sports/activities, including tennis, cycling, stand-up paddle boarding, Pilates, and more. One of my hidden talents is my ability to do a tripod headstand.

Erikson in the News

Politco Illinois highlighted MacKenzie Scott’s $8M investment in Erikson Institute to advance equity in early childhood education and linked to our press release on

About Erikson

Graduate Education

Recognized for our groundbreaking work in the field of early childhood, Erikson specializes in preparing child development, education, and social work leaders to improve the lives of young children, families, and their communities. For more information on our degree and certificate programs, visit our website or email our admissions team.

Clinical and Community Services

Erikson’s Center for Children and Families offers pediatric mental health services for children birth to age 8 and their families. Services can be provided in both English and Spanish, and are available to families regardless of their ability to pay.

Policy and Leadership

Erikson’s Policy and Leadership department engages leaders in government, business, and nonprofit sectors to inform effective policies that benefit children and families. They offer unique programming that equips decision-makers and influencers with the resources, skills, and deep knowledge about early childhood development that will support their efforts to make lasting change. Learn more about our Policy and Leadership

Give to Erikson

The first 1,800 days of life set the stage for a child’s long-term physical and emotional health, socioeconomic trajectory, life expectancy, happiness, and well-being. Can we count on you to make a gift to strengthen our ability to serve children and families, as well as our students, faculty, and staff, during this time? Your support for Erikson prepares the heroes in young children’s lives—teachers, social workers, civic leaders, parents and caregivers—to get them safely through this crisis so they can soar into promising futures. Please donate here

More Ways to Connect

Learn more about Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative and TEC Center.

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