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About Us

The Opportunity

1 in 3 Tulsa children under the age of six live in poverty, more than half are children of color. Our city and state lead the way in many early childhood innovations, yet there is still more work to do to ensure Tulsa children growing up in poverty receive the care and support they need to thrive.


Continuing Change in Tulsa

Tulsa has some of the most robust early childhood programs in the United States.

Oklahoma has led the country in providing universal access to prekindergarten. Tulsa currently has four Educare schools – which is the most in any city – a rigorous early childhood model, where the majority of students leave kindergarten ready. Oklahoma is also a leader in innovative public-private partnerships. The Oklahoma Early Childhood Program provides $29 million to 10 providers reaching children birth through three.

BEST aims to continue to coordinate a comprehensive continuum of care so Tulsa’s children have access to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive.

The Research

The birth and life outcomes for Tulsa’s children living in poverty widen over the course of their lifetimes. When we look at the data by race, the gap widens even further for children of color living in poverty when compared to their affluent white peers.


Extensive research on brain development, parent-child relationships, and early childhood care and education are the foundation for BEST’s commitment to the following:

  • Support early brain development
  • Increase access to and participation in quality programs and services
  • Connect families to desired programs and services
  • Improve conditions for success

In 2019, American Institutes for Research began a six-year process and outcome/impact evaluation of BEST to learn how and in what ways a comprehensive, continuous, and integrated system-change approach can build greater opportunities that will improve the lives of young children and their families. The study also focuses on how BEST impacts racial and social equity in Tulsa, as this relates to service provision, service access, and child and parent outcomes.


BEST Phase I Evaluation

During Phase I of BEST (2017-2019), Child Trends, a national research organization focused on improving the lives of vulnerable children and youth, conducted an Implementation Study. Using a developmental lens, the early implementation of BEST is captured through a series of surveys and interviews. Findings from Year 1 are linked through the Child Trends website here, with the full report available directly here. Findings from Year 2 can be found here, with the full report available here.

The American Institutes for Research (AIR)

The American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a not-for-profit corporation with more than 65 years of experience in education-related research and development projects. AIR is one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations. Their overriding goal is to use the best science available to bring the most effective ideas and approaches to enhancing everyday life. For AIR, making the world a better place is not wishful thinking. It is the goal that drives AIR. Founded in 1946 as a not-for-profit organization, AIR conducts their work with strict independence, objectivity and non-partisanship.

“Honoring and valuing proximity to community is essential for hopes of making an enduring impact. Those who are closest to the problem have unique insights and experience that need to be a part of the decision-making for the allocation of resources, the development of interventions and so much more.” 

– Sophia Pappas, Managing Director at the Birth Through Eight Strategy for Tulsa (BEST)

Our Team

Sophia Pappas
Sophia Pappas
Catrice Brantley
Catrice Brantley
Dan Sterba

Dan Sterba

Amy Pappas

Amy Tate

Emily Siex

JD Johnson

Allison Brantley

Allison Trombley

Anna Watson HEads

Anna Watson

Stefanie Menting
Stefanie Menting
Stefanie Menting

Beth Delancy

Tegan Cortes

Ashley Knox

Tegan Cortes
Tegan Cortes
Cynthia Jasso

Tania Reeves

Tegan Cortes

Chela Starks

Tegan Cortes

Angela Wells

Tegan Cortes

Sara Frazier

BEST Advisory Committee

Rooted in racial equity, BEST Advisory Committee brings together leaders across the BEST network and larger community to ensure ongoing effectiveness and governance of BEST in reaching its collective vision and goals. BEST Advisory members provide meaningful feedback on key decisions, make recommendations and share decision-making authority with the GKFF-BEST team.

The committee provides oversight, gauges progress, evaluates the initiative, identifies opportunities, surfaces gaps and problem solves in ways that reflect the complexities of BEST and leverage the expertise and commitment of a wide range of partners and stakeholders.

Join us in helping Tulsa thrive