A Message from our Board of Directors

April 2020

On behalf of Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, we hope you and your loved ones are safe during this challenging time. Allowing our community's youngest children to thrive is always a top priority for us and our work together is far too important to stop during this time.

We are incredibly grateful for all of those who have supported us in our mission to improve the lives of our young children this year.  This support allowed us to continue investments in initiatives that addressed health, early care and education (both quality and accessibility), early literacy, and family support for children, birth to five, of Mecklenburg County and their families. Through our various funders, including our individual donors, a few of our many proud accomplishments this year include:

    • Awarding over $28,000,000 to nearly 30 programs led by partner agencies that serve children ages 0-5 in our community.
    • Providing salary supplements to over 700 qualified childcare teachers and directors through the WAGE$ initiative.
    • Administering MECK Pre-K on behalf of Mecklenburg County to 1,200 children in 69 classrooms across 37 locations.
    • Serving 120 parents through Smart Start's Guiding Parents to Services program. Additionally, approximately 200 childcare providers and other agency service providers are trained in Autism support techniques.
    • Expanding the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to over 27,000 Mecklenburg children who receive free, age appropriate books delivered to their homes each month. That's over 324,000 books!
    • Contributing to the creation of a trauma-informed community through Resilience screening and training sessions for Mecklenburg home visiting staff, Early Head Start staff, and early education teachers.
    • Working with eight area Head Start sites with Healthy Futures Starting in the Kitchen program, which implements a healthy, sustainable menu, facilitated by CPCC.
    • Partnering with four local pediatricians (through Atrium & Novant) that have integrated The Basics Mecklenburg into well-child visits for children from birth to 3 years.
    • Speaking on behalf of parents, caregivers, and early education professionals to inform and influence North Carolina's early education plans.
    • Expanding Parents as Teachers and Nurse Family Partnership home visiting programs which support first-time or adolescent parents.

The work Smart Start does everyday impacts the 85,000 children ages 0-5 in our community.  These advances and opportunities would not have been possible without the generosity of our funders and friends. We hope you consider Smart Start of Mecklenburg County in your 2020 giving.


Cheryl Richards, PhD.
Board Chair