Smart Start of Mecklenburg County Awards New Innovation Grants

January 2022

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is known for its allocation of state, county, and private funds to local early childhood serving agencies. In order to increase impact and innovation, Smart Start of Mecklenburg County granted over $313,000 in one-time funding for Innovation Grants projects addressing gaps in services for families and children ages birth to five.

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County's second annual Innovation Grants support efforts committed to championing equitable access and opportunities for all in early childhood. We value change that's centered on community, collaboration, and collective action as integral to shifting entrenched power structures. Smart Start funded projects that engage community voices, particularly communities of color, to build equitable solutions.

These funds will develop innovative projects to help us come closer to our vision that every child in Mecklenburg County enters kindergarten health and is ready to succeed. The grants focus on rapid cycle, evidence-based or evidence-informed projects that will lead to the identification of outcome disparities for vulnerable families and the fall-out of pandemic response on preschool-aged children.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2022 grant recipients.

Beatties Ford Family Child Care Network
Nutrition, fitness program for children and their families attending a FCCH in the Beatties Ford Network.

Charlotte Bilingual Preschool
This program aims to grow Mecklenburg County's bilingual early childhood education (ECE) workforce and source future educators. The program includes ECE coursework in Spanish at Central Piedmont and ECE Career Navigator.

Charlotte Community Health Clinic
The Primary Care Behavioral Health Model (PCBH) is a pediatric integrated behavioral health model which increases access to high-risk families with young children.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library
Early Literacy DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) is a partnership with Raising a Reader. The program introduces tolerance, acceptance, and empathy with diverse books, reading, and storytime in the classroom and beyond. The program will be introduced to 12 classrooms over 12 weeks.

Davidson-Cornelius Child Development Center   
Funding is program support for the "Building Blocks" program, a partnership with North Mecklenburg Economic Collaborative.

Family Mankind
Funding will help grow the organization's capacity to build safe environments for young children ages prenatal thru 5 by identifying and serving parents/caregivers who may be at risk of domestic violence and trauma.

Freedom Communities
Funding will support program-related costs for Moms Moving Forward, a program supporting single mothers living in 28208.

Promising Pages
Funding will support Bookseed & Reading Resource Center projects in Inlivian (formerly the Charlotte housing authority).

Queen City Cocoa B.E.A.N.S
Women of color and their families are encouraged to embrace good nutrition and breastfeeding as a cultural and social norm through Breastfeeding Education, Advocacy, Normalcy, and Support (B.E.A.N.S.).

Reach Out and Read
Funding supports partnerships with pediatricians to provide age-appropriate developmental health messaging for families using social media tools.

Smith Family Wellness Center
Funding provides Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) services to children and families at-risk of or involved with Mecklenburg County Youth and Family Services and to fund one Nationally Certified Family Partner.

Funding supports an evidence-based social skills group and parent toolkit for Medicaid recipients.

WTVI-PBS Charlotte
Funding supports partnership with Hidden Valley Elementary to provide free weekly STEM coding workshops to Pre-K students and their teachers using Scratch Jr., introductory programming language.