A closeup of 'Threshold' a green, tile mosaic created by Lynn Basa, located in the main entrance to Nancy Nicholas Hall.


The Center on Promoting Early Literacy, Child Advocacy, and Nurturance (PELICAN)

The PELICAN Center aims to bring students and professionals from different disciplines into the same conversation with the goal of bettering the lives of children and families. Its purpose is to help those who care about children and families build a more complete, more inclusive, more collaborative, and more powerful toolbox to use in their work.

An whimsical illustration of a Black mother reading to her child.

Our Priorities

Key pillars

  1. Early Literacy — shared interactions around books and reading from birth through age 5
  2. Child Health Advocacy — communication and strategies to build policy as a form of support, prevention, and repair at the individual and societal level
  3. Early Relational Health — how to think about, talk about, and build support for strong, stable, healthy relationships in the lives of all children

Engage and influence at three levels

  1. The child and family level
  2. The neighborhood and community level
  3. The societal (e.g. state, national) level

Our Efforts


We strategically design learning opportunities that prepare students for real-world efforts in their future careers. This may include courses, seminars, guest lectures, community practica, and internships. This consists of:

  • An undergraduate course, titled “Ecologies of Childhood Health and Well-Being”
  • Developing a plan/curriculum for training in advocacy skills
  • Offering internships for students with practical programs and projects
  • Investigating developing a Center speaker/seminar series aimed around our pillars
  • Considering development of an expert speakers’ bureau


We contribute to real-world efforts and issues. The center communicates and disseminates information, strategies, tools, resources, and current research and best practices. This consists of:

  • Disseminating learner projects to partners and the public, which may include newsletters, e-mail communications, social media, public presentations, Community Conversations, and more
  • Disseminating examples of systems/environmental changes impacting child health and wellness
  • Offering knowledge, skills, and expert advice to early childhood educators around health and wellness through the Early Childhood Health Consultation Project
  • Continuing to grow existing public messaging work that emphasizes the health and well-being of children and their families through human ecological thinking combined with public health frameworks and applied practical examples
  • Building a program connecting the state legislature and child/family experts around building good, evidence-based policy


We establish new and maintain strategic bi-directional partnerships with people, organizations, networks, and coalitions that align with the PELICAN Center’s purpose and goals. This consists of:

  • Establishing center-based partnerships with state-focused, child-and-family-supporting organizations with aligned purpose
  • Continuing to support/be involved in cross-sector partnerships that are impacting systems and environments that support child health and well-being
  • Creating opportunities for both learners and community partners to gain skills in how to engage well with and productively utilize partnerships

PELICAN Leadership

  • A white woman smiling, with light brown hair, wearing a black and white striped cardigan.

    Amy MeinenResearch and Outreach Program Coordinator

  • Dipesh Navsaria dressed in a pink shirt, bow tie and blazer jacket.

    Dipesh NavsariaClinical Professor of Human Development & Family Studies | Outreach Faculty Fellow for the Child Development Lab