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WASHINGTON, February 22, 2011– One year after the launch of a pioneering initiative to improve the well being of Latin American kids, more than half a million young children have benefited from the Early Childhood Initiative: An Investment for Life, a joint venture of the World Bank and Shakira’s advocacy group ALAS.

In the initiative’s first year, governments in Latin America and the Caribbean have received over $100 million in funding from the World Bank –one third of the initial 3-year pledge of $300 million- to support Early Childhood Development (ECD) policies and programs. These provide nutrition, healthcare and stimulating environments to infants from birth through 6 years of age –a period of development crucial for achieving a child’s full potential.

The project, launched in February of 2010 by World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick, artist and children’s advocate Shakira Mebarak, aims to mobilize all sectors of society towards the implementation of comprehensive, well-articulated, and efficient ECD policies and programs to equalize opportunities for low income children early in life.

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