Wow! I just got back from an incredible meeting with local Smart Start leaders. The energy was amazing and their accomplishments and work for our children is awe-inspiring. In every community, Smart Start is the catalyst bringing together all those who touch the lives of young children to ensure children’s needs are best met.
While the economy has been struggling, Smart Start leaders have doubled their efforts to find other resources for the children we care so deeply about. They are literally bringing millions of dollars into North Carolina’s early childhood system through grants from federal, national, state and local funders. They have received money from Early Head Start, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AmeriCorps, Kellogg Foundation, Duke Energy, BlueCross BlueShield Foundation of NC, the Chowan Hospital Foundation and many others. Early Head Start will increase the number of high quality infant child care settings all across the state and is expected to bring in more than $6 million over the next two years.
Smart Start leaders are taking Dr. Jack Shonkoff’s words to heart. The science is clear, investing in young children is the best use of our dollars. At a recent National Governors Association meeting he noted that while we have been making steady progress over the past decade, the time is ripe for a giant leap of innovation to ensure that all children benefit from quality early childhood experiences. The federal government is poised to invest billions in such innovation through the Early Learning Challenge Grants. The energy, passion and creativity that live in our Smart Start community will fuel that next leap in innovation. We are ready!
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Stephanie Fanjul, President
The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc.