CHICAGO -- Hillary Rodham Clinton launched a new early childhood initiative Friday aimed at improving the lives of young children, her first venture since joining the foundation created by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

The former secretary of state announced a partnership called "Too Small to Fail" on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative America conference in Chicago. Clinton will partner with Next Generation, a nonpartisan group that promotes scientific research about early childhood development.

"Our country's future depends on healthy kids and loving families. They're the building blocks of a strong and prosperous society," Clinton says in a 4-minute video describing the initiative.

The former first lady and New York senator has been involved in early childhood development throughout her career. After law school, she worked as an attorney for the Children's Defense Fund, a children's advocacy group. Her 1996 best-selling book, "It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us," addressed ways that families and community groups can partner to help children develop.

Clinton remains a heavy favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 if she decides to run for the White House again. She ended her tenure as President Barack Obama's secretary of state in February and is working on a book about her time at the State Department and delivering paid speeches around the country.

The new project aims to help parents improve learning and health, and to get businesses to help improve conditions for families. It will promote new research on children's brain development and the role of nutrition and health on the development of kids.

Mrs. Clinton opened the two-day meeting Thursday by outlining her priorities in her new role with the Clinton Foundation. They include working on issues such as improving early childhood education and development, promoting the rights of women and girls in the United States and around the globe and helping spur economic growth.

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Too Small to Fail: http://toosmall.org/

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  • Their wedding day on October 11, 1975

  • Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas,right, and his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton, chat with Mochtar Riady, chairman of the Hong Kong Chinese Bank at a reception hosted by Riady, Oct. 7, 1985. Clinton is in Hong Kong for a three-day trade promotion tour. (AP Photo/Dick Fung)

  • Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary arrive for dinner at the White House Sunday evening, Feb. 23, 1986. (AP photo/Ron Edmonds)

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton is joined by his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton, left, on the day he announced his bid for the presidency in Little Rock, Arkansas on Nov. 3, 1991. Clinton denied on Friday reports of rumored extramarital affairs, saying the charges were “simply not true.” (AP Photo)

  • Then Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton hugs his wife Hillary at Clinton's election night party at the Merrimack Inn, in Merrimack, N.H. in this Feb. 18, 1992 file photo. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm, File)

  • Hillary Clinton, right, embraces her husband, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, in Los Angeles Tuesday night after he secured enough delegates to capture the Democratic presidential nomination. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

  • Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary dance on stage during a "Get-Out-The-Vote" rally at the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. Sunday night, Nov. 1, 1992. (AP Photo/Susan Ragan)

  • Democratic presidential nominee Gov. Bill Clinton gives his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, a kiss as she joined him at the Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center in Los Angeles, Calif., Sept. 16, 1992. She had just taped "The Home Show." (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

  • Arkansas Gov. and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign outside the Tampa Convention Center on Monday, March 9, 1992 on the eve of Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

  • Framed by a huge American flag, Democratic presidential hopeful Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton wave to supporters during a rally at a downtown Chicago hotel Tuesday, March 17, 1992. Clinton won both the Illinois and Michigan primaries. (AP Photo/Charles Bennett)

  • Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Bill Clinton, of Arkansas, walks with his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton after the couple voted at Dunbar Community Center in Little Rock, Ark., on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 1992. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

  • U.S. president-elect Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, hug each other during an appearance at the Old State House in Little Rock, Ark., following the presidential election victory, Tuesday night, Nov. 3, 1992. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

  • President-elect Clinton and his wife Hillary ride on the beach at Hilton Head Island, S.C. on Friday. They are on the island for vacation and Renaissance Weekend. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) January 1993

  • President and Mrs. Clinton stand with South African President Nelson Mandela and his daughter, Zinzi Mandela Hlongwane, Tuesday night, Oct., 4, 1994 at the North Portico of the White House. The Clintons hosted a state dinner for Mandela. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)

  • President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton leave the Marine One helicopter for Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Oct. 25, 1994. The president left for the Middle East to celebrate peace in the shadow of violence and pledged to use his high profile mission to salute the new Israeli-Jordanian pact. (AP Photo/Shayna Brennan)

  • President Clinton laughs at the sight of a staff member (not shown) wearing a Santa hat as he, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and their daughter Chelsea leave Foundary Methodist Church in Washington after attending services Sunday morning, Dec. 25, 1994. At rear is an unidentified Secret Service agent. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • President Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton arrive at a dinner at the White House, Sunday night, Jan. 29, 1995. The former Arkansas governor was hosting the state executives Sunday night at an annual black-tie dinner for the National Governors' Association, a group he once headed. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)

  • President and Mrs. Clinton laugh during the introductions of a concert Wednesday night, May 17, 1995 on the South Lawn at the White House. The concert was being taped for a PBS television series "In Performance at the White House" and will be aired this fall. The hour-long performance, featuring the women of country music, was hosted by Chet Atkins. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)