Decades of research have shown that pre-k makes a difference in the school readiness of children. Not just in the short-term to get children ready to succeed in school, but in the long-term as children grow up, become employed and contribute to the strength of the economy. But, in Mecklenburg County, less than 1/3 of children who are four years old have access to public pre-k. 

A 2013 study ranked Charlotte last, 50th among the 50 largest U.S. cities, and Mecklenburg County 99th among the 100 largest U.S. counties in upward mobility. These findings opened the community’s eyes to the hard truth that access to economic opportunity is far too aligned with the zip code where one lives. The Opportunity Task Force, convened to address this issue, believed one key way to improve outcomes for children is to focus on early childhood education, a strategy Leading on Opportunity continues to advance.

A 2017 study commissioned by Mecklenburg County and the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council (CELC), a group of two dozen leading Charlotte CEOs, recommends implementing voluntary, universal pre-k.

It’s time. Let’s pave the way for school success by implementing universal pre-k today.

• Research shows that all children benefit from high-quality pre-k programs, which are the gateway to school readiness and success.
• Children who enter school ready to succeed are much less likely to repeat a grade or be referred to special education, and much more likely to graduate high school either college or career ready.
• Nobel-prize winning economist James Heckman estimates that every dollar spent on high-quality early learning programs for low-income children delivers a 13% annual return on investment.

How Can You Help?
• Visit for more information and to make the Pre-K Paves the Way Promise.
• Let your Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners know you support voluntary, universal pre-k. Visit the Mecklenburg County website for a listing of commissioners and their contact information.
• Share your support on social media and encourage others to do the same.