Head Start began as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson 's Great Society campaign. Its justification came from the staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers .  Stan Salett , civil rights organizer, national education policy advisor and creator of the Upward Bound Program, is also credited with initiating the Head Start program.
In January of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared The War on Poverty in his State of the Union speech. Shortly thereafter, Sargent Shriver took the lead in assembling a panel of experts to develop a comprehensive child development program that would help communities meet the needs of disadvantaged preschool children. Among these experts were Dr. Robert Cooke, a pediatrician at John Hopkins University, and Dr. Edward Zigler, a professor of psychology and director of the Child Study Center at Yale University.