Smart Start of Mecklenburg County Press Packet

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Smart Start Unveils New Name for Community-Wide Early Brain Development Campaign

[Charlotte, NC, February 6, 2020] – Smart Start of Mecklenburg County launched Meck Basics, a community-wide early brain development campaign, in October 2018.  With rapid growth of the initiative locally, and nationally, they are rolling out a new name and a new website.

The campaign is part of a network of Basics initiatives, designed to ensure that all children start school with the skills they need to learn and to thrive.  The Achievement Gap Initiative (AGI) at Harvard University created The Basics to address skill gaps between children from different backgrounds that begin developing during the earliest years, before a child even enrolls in kindergarten. 

Baby’s brains grow very rapidly, with the first three years providing a critical window for development and the opportunity to build a strong foundation for future learning and success.  Drawing from research on early brain development and the impact of early relationships and experiences, the AGI identified 5 caregiving practices that are critical for healthy cognitive, language and social-emotional development in children birth to three years. 

These caregiving behaviors, or “Basics,” are fun, simple, and powerful:

  1. Maximize Love, Manage Stress
  2. Talk, Sing and Point
  3. Count, Group and Compare
  4. Explore Through Movement and Play
  5. Read and Discuss Stories

The Basics are accessible to all parents and caregivers of young children and include interactions that can be incorporated into everyday routines.  The goal of the initiative is to saturate the community with information about the importance of early brain development, to provide examples of activities and interactions caregivers can practice daily, and to provide support through partners parents already trust.

The Basics campaign has grown rapidly, spreading across the country and throughout Mecklenburg County.  Locally, Smart Start has developed partnerships with healthcare providers, public and private organizations serving families and young children, early childhood educators and the faith community.  Nationally, The Basics has been adopted by more than 35 communities, including several in South Carolina (The Basics Palmetto) and in Guilford and Randolph counties in North Carolina. 

To better align with fellow Basics’ initiatives across the country, Smart Start will be adopting a new title:  The Basics Mecklenburg.  A new website has been launched at  The site includes videos and other resources in both English and Spanish.  The Basics Mecklenburg is administered by Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, which funds over 20 local early childhood, health and family support programs across the county.

To learn more about The Basics Mecklenburg please visit  For information on training or how to become a community partner, please email Janet Harmon at

Following a National Search, Smart Start of Mecklenburg County Welcomes New CEO

 [CHARLOTTE, NC] [May 26, 2020] – Following a national search led by Sockwell Partners, the Smart Start of Mecklenburg County board of directors is pleased to announce Mr. Jake House as the new CEO of the organization.

Jake has been in Charlotte since 2013 and developed a passion for education, and inequity in education, early in his career through his experience with Harlem Children’s Zone. Jake holds an undergraduate degree in marketing, an MBA from the University of Michigan, and completed a prestigious 2-yr Broad Fellowship in Educational Leadership, which takes outstanding managers across the country and trains them to lead in urban school districts.

“Jake brings experience and credibility having led both nonprofit and for-profit organizations. He has a unique mix of skills that the Board of Directors have identified as vital in our next leader and will position Smart Start as a leading advocate for young children. We are most excited for the children and families who will benefit from his leadership in the years to come,” said Victoria Manning, board member and chair of the search committee.

Jake will begin his position on June 15, 2020.  “I am honored and humbled to lead the Smart Start organization. The need for our community to focus on our youngest citizens and their families was great prior to the pandemic we are living through. That need will only become magnified in the months and years ahead. I stand willing and motivated to help Smart Start and all of our partner agencies tackle the obstacles in front of us”, comments House.

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County has undergone tremendous evolution over the years, and today it is responsible for administering nearly 30 state and community funded programs, The Basics Mecklenburg, Guiding Parents to Services, and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.  In 2018, Smart Start launched MECK Pre-K, the County’s universal pre-k program that currently provides early childhood education services to over 1,200 children.  Mecklenburg County’s proposed budget will further increase capacity to 89 classrooms offering the ability to serve more than 1,600 children.

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County mobilizes resources, forges partnerships, and supports families to improve early childhood health, education and development and ensure children are prepared for kindergarten. Our four areas of focus are early care and education quality and accessibility, family support, health, and early literacy for children birth to five

Press Contact: Katie Grant

MECK Pre-K Drive-Through Registration Event

[CHARLOTTE, NC] [July 16, 2020] – MECK Pre-K will conduct a second drive-through registration this week that allows families to interact with MECK Pre-K staff in person from the safety of their cars.


On Saturday, July 18, parents or guardians of incoming Pre-K students for the 2020-2021 school year may drive through the parking lot of the Child and Family Services building located on 5th Street between N. Davidson and N. Alexander Street.


Event hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


The event will offer the opportunity for the following:

– Pick up a MECK Pre-Kindergarten application in English and Spanish

– Turn in a completed MECK Pre-K application

– Turn in missing application documents

– Have copies made of your documents

– Get help with completing new and existing MECK Pre-K applications

– Ask a MECK Pre-K staff member questions


Please note that due to Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order requiring facemasks, we ask that you follow state guidelines.

Press Contact: Trinisha Dean

Join Smart Start of Mecklenburg County in Observation of National Nonprofit Day


[CHARLOTTE, NC] [August 14, 2020] – You are invited to join the Smart Start of Mecklenburg County team in observation of National Nonprofit Day, Monday August 17. This special day, founded by Sherita J. Herling, commemorates August 17, 1894, when the Tariff Act became law and gave exemptions for charitable institutions and nonprofit organizations.

We now celebrate this day by recognizing nonprofits and the impact their work has in the community, and Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is proud to take part.

Allowing the community’s youngest children to thrive is always a top priority for Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, and their work is far too important to pause during this stressful 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 past year.  This support allowed us to continue investments in initiatives that addressed health, early care and education, early literacy, and family support for children ages birth to five and their families in Mecklenburg County”, says Jake House, CEO of Smart Start of Mecklenburg County.


You can show your appreciation for nonprofits like Smart Start of Mecklenburg County by making a donation, volunteering once in-person events resume, sparking conversations on social media, or simply saying thank you to the people dedicating their lives to social change.

The work Smart Start does every day 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.

To learn more about Smart Start of Mecklenburg County’s many accomplishments during the last fiscal year, please visit:

To consider Smart Start of Mecklenburg County in your National Nonprofit Day giving and to donate directly, please visit:

Press Contact: Mike Blackwelder

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County Celebrates GivingTuesday

[CHARLOTTE, NC, OCTOBER 27, 2020] – This GivingTuesday, Smart Start of Mecklenburg County will inspire generosity by joining millions around the world participating in the global generosity movement on December 1, 2020.

GivingTuesday will kick off the charitable season this year by inspiring people to give back on December 1, 2020, and throughout the year.

GivingTuesday was launched in 2012 as a simple idea: to create a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past eight years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.


People demonstrate generosity in many ways on GivingTuesday. Whether it’s helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving to causes we care about, every act of generosity counts. GivingTuesday has raised billions of dollars for critical causes around the world and gets 14.2 billion impressions on social media from people and organizations speaking up for the causes that matter to them and encouraging others to get involved.

“GivingTuesday inspires people all around the world to embrace their power to drive progress around the causes they care about, not just on one day but throughout the year.” said Asha Curran, GivingTuesday’s CEO, and co-founder. “With country and community leaders, millions of organizations, and countless givers of all kinds, GivingTuesday is creating a shared space where we can see the radical implications of a more generous world.”  

Those who are interested in joining Smart Start of Mecklenburg County’s GivingTuesday initiative can visit their website.





Join the Celebration and Support the Week of the Young Child

[Charlotte, NC, April 4 2019] – Join Smart Start of Mecklenburg County (SSMC) as they bring together community organizations in Mecklenburg County to celebrate the Week of the Young Child. The Week of the Young Child will take place Monday, April 8 through Saturday, April 13, 2019. This annual celebration is comprised of five fun-filled themed days, such as Music Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Work-Together Wednesday, Artsy Thursday, and Family Friday. Each day will highlight important components needed to create a healthy and supportive community for its young children.

The Week of the Young Child™ celebration began in 1971 by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to bring communities together across the nation to focus on early childhood learning and the programs and services that help children reach their full potential. The purpose of this week is to encourage the community to think about how we can address the needs of young children and their families.

SSMC is excited to highlight the programs and resources available for families with young children in our community.

To celebrate the conclusion of this week, SSMC and Johnson C. Smith University are collaborating to host a Family Fun Affair. This event will take place on Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University located at 100 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte, NC 28216.  This event is free and open to the public. Children and their families can enjoy bounce houses, food, outdoor games, raffle prizes, and child-friendly vendors.

The Family Fun Fair will feature more than 30 vendors from across Mecklenburg County that serve our youngest children and their families. These vendors will include the Colgate dental bus, extracurricular activities, family support programs, and more. This will be an opportunity for parents to learn about the resources that are available in Mecklenburg County while children enjoy outdoor activities.

To learn more about the Week of the Young Child, the Family Fun Fair, and how you can help support Mecklenburg children, visit


This 2018-19 school year, Mecklenburg County is opening 33 new classrooms to serve 600 more children in the community

[CHARLOTTE, N.C., August 22, 2018] – Registration has opened for MECK Pre-K, the start of a
growing movement to offer free universal Pre-K to four-year-olds in Mecklenburg County and
managed through Smart Start.

“With their vision and resources, Mecklenburg County commissioners have taken the bold step to
expand universal Pre-K for those children who need it most,” said Nancy Hughes, executive director of
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County. “Now it’s up to us to take advantage of this opportunity, and to
make sure families get their child signed up now. Universal Pre-K is a vital first step not just to a good
education, but to a healthy and successful life.”

For the 2018-19 school year, Mecklenburg County is funding 33 new Pre-K classrooms to serve 600
more four year-old children. Classes will be in 4 and 5 star high-quality child care centers throughout
Mecklenburg. Each classroom will have a maximum of 18 children with a certified (or certifiable)
licensed teacher and a teacher assistant. Some sites will provide transportation for a nominal fee.
Children will be placed as close to home as possible.

Trinisha Dean, newly hired by Smart Start to direct MECK Pre-K, said, “Each 6½-hour school day will
be filled with hands-on, project-based lessons and activities to foster children’s confidence, creativity,
critical thinking skills, and to promote positive growth and development for all children.” As a result,
children will be developmentally and academically prepared to start kindergarten ready, eager and
excited to learn and grow.

“Research and parent’s personal experiences points to the power of Pre-K to shape a child’s life,”
Dean said. “We are eager to open new classroom doors, take these little ones by the hand and begin
their journey to success.”

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, a private nonprofit partnership that funds local programs for
children from birth to age five and their families, will administer MECK Pre-K. To sign up, visit Parents are also welcome to call (704) 943-9585 to see if your
child qualifies. To apply for the 2018-19 school year, a child must be age four on or before August 31
and live in Mecklenburg County. Families must show a birth certificate, proof of residency in
Mecklenburg, and household income at or below 220% of the federal poverty level (e.g. for a family of
four, that’s $55,220). Ultimately, the goal is to open enrollment for all families of four year-old children
regardless of income level, however, the initial years phase-in lower income families first.

Smart Start Celebrates 25 Years of Serving NC Children and their Families

Raleigh, NC – Smart Start is celebrating 25 years of providing North Carolina’s youngest children and
their families with programs and services to ensure all children start kindergarten healthy, happy,
and ready to learn.

In 1993, the North Carolina General Assembly created Smart Start, appropriating $20 million to 18
pioneer counties to begin the work of improving the quality of child care, strengthening families, and
supporting healthy child development. By 1997, the funding had increased to $97 million and all 100
North Carolina counties were being served by Smart Start.

“Our state recognized early that to compete in national and global markets, we need to start by
ensuring our youngest children get the care and education they need. I’ve been with Smart Start
since the beginning, working at both the community and state level, and have experienced first-hand
the profound impact Smart Start has for each child in every community,” stated Cindy Watkins,
President of the NC Partnership for Children. “Smart Start’s system of statewide governance and
innovation combined with local inspiration means our communities get the programs they need to
serve children and families.”

Over the past 25 years, Smart Start has become a nationally recognized leader in early childhood
and healthy development. The network of early childhood partnerships provides expertise, guidance
and infrastructure to ensure North Carolina children receive the care and nurturing they need to
thrive. Tailored to meet the specific needs of each community, Smart Start local partnerships invest
in early education, literacy, health, and family support so that our children are ready to succeed,
lead productive lives and contribute to a strong, vibrant North Carolina.

Currently, 75 local partnerships serve all 100 counties and because of the work of Smart Start, more
children are in high quality child care, third grade reading and math scores have increased, special
education placements have decreased, the number of developmental screenings have increased,
and the number of children being read to daily has increased. More information about the work and
results of Smart Start can be found here.

Smart Start will celebrate its 25-year history throughout 2018 with monthly events, a birthday party
at the annual Smart Start Conference, and a 25th Anniversary Gala in September.


NoDa Brewing to host a Brews & Books Kick-Off Event on November 10th at 4pm

[Charlotte, NC, November 9, 2017] – Smart Start of Mecklenburg County (SSMC) and NoDa
Brewing Company are working together to put books into the hands of Mecklenburg County’s
youngest children through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL).

The DPIL program has been in Mecklenburg County for the past 2 years supporting 2,800
children with private dollars. NoDa Brewing Company has been a financial supporter of the
program since 2015. This year, however they have stepped up in a BIG way and funded all 672
existing children enrolled in the program that live in the two shared zip codes as NoDa Brewing
Company locations. Supporting their community has always been a priority for Todd & Suzie
Ford, owners of NoDa Brewing Company. They understand that the development of children in
our county is incredibly important, so they teamed up with SSMC to make sure that children 0-5
have access to free books through DPIL of Mecklenburg County!

In order to ensure that all 70,716 children in our community younger than age 5 can enroll,
SSMC will be soliciting private funding and working with community partners such as NoDa
Brewing Company to fund the approximate 50,000 children that the state funding doesn’t cover
in Mecklenburg County.

“Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is grateful and honored to be a partner with the owners and
staff of NoDa Brewing Company to get high quality books in the hands of young children,
delivered directly to their homes, through their support of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library.
It is gratifying to have community partners, like NoDa Brewing Company, that share the passion
that we have for increasing early childhood literacy opportunities in our community.” Nancy
Hughes, Executive Director at Smart Start of Mecklenburg County.

It only costs $30 to support one child for an ENTIRE YEAR! NoDa Brewing Company has
committed to the children in their backyard (28205 and 28206), and they are challenging the
community to do the same!

Please join us as we kick-off the Brews & Books campaign in the NoDa Brewing Company tap
room on November 10th! In addition to parents bringing their children by to sign-up for the
program, there will be live music from John Dungan, grub from TIN Kitchen, plenty of tasty beer,
a visit from Brandy the marvelous mini horse and an awesome raffle; For every child you
support ($30) you’ll receive one entry to a great prize (a night’s stay a local hotel, a gift card for
dinner and some other great surprises)!

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County to Expand Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to 20,000 Children!

[Charlotte, NC, October 20, 2017] – Smart Start of Mecklenburg County and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library are working together to bring books to Mecklenburg County’s youngest children through funding provided by the North Carolina General Assembly.

During the 2017 legislative session, North Carolina state lawmakers included $3.5 million in the first year of the budget and $7 million in the second year for the Smart Start network to offer free books through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to children across the state. Imagination Library is a program created to foster a love of reading among children aged birth to five through the gift of a specially selected book delivered right to their home each month.

“I’m thrilled that my Imagination Library is going to be offered to so many children in North Carolina” stated Dolly Parton, the founder of Imagination Library. “Working together we can help children dream more, learn more, care more, and be more.”
The Dolly Parton Imagination Library (DPIL) Program has been in Mecklenburg County for the past 2 years supporting 2,800 children with private dollars. Smart Start of Mecklenburg County (SSMC) has been awarded state funding to expand the existing DPIL program county wide. This amount allows SSMC to support an additional 20,000 children to receive age related, developmentally appropriate books mailed directly to their homes monthly.

“Our state leaders clearly understand how important an early love of reading is for each child’s success in school and later in life,” stated Cindy Watkins, the President of the North Carolina Partnership for Children that oversees the Smart Start network, “Smart Start works in every community to ensure young children have a strong foundation for starting kindergarten – now we can offer this important literacy program to that critical work.”

The statewide effort will begin in 98 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Because the program is offered by zip code, the initial launch will cover 85 percent of NC zip codes expanding to cover every county by the second year.

In order to ensure that all 70,716 children in our community younger than 5 can enroll, please consider an annual donation of $30 to sponsor a child in this program. Smart Start of Mecklenburg County’s goal is to have this program in every home in Mecklenburg County.

To find out more about Smart Start of Mecklenburg County and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library partnership, to sponsor or register a child, visit

New Executive Director

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MECC Conferencce

We’re Moving the Dial & Collaborating for the Inclusion of ALL Children

On Friday & Saturday April 21-22nd 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Metrolina Early Childhood Collaborative (MECC) will hold its second annual conference. MECC is a group of community members and agencies in the greater Charlotte region that has seen a need to sponsor a conference on making a difference for those that work with children with exceptionalities or are parents of children with exceptionalities.

For our second annual conference, we will have as our first guest speaker, Mona Johnson-Gibson, from the Ronald McDonald House. She will speak on Friday, April 21st to registered participants at Fiber Space by Google in Uptown Charlotte from 7:00 to 8:00 pm, following a Wine and Cheese reception sponsored by Google Fiber starting at 6:00 pm.

On Saturday, April 22nd, participants will join us at UNCC’s Center City Campus from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm for our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Carol M. Trivette, Associate Professor at East Tennessee State University. Following the keynote from Dr. Trivette, participants will have the opportunity to attend breakout sessions over the following topics: Social/Emotional Development, Diversity and Cultural Competence, and Children with Exceptionalities.

This Moving the Dial Conference is for educators, administrators, therapists, parents, and paraprofessionals serving all children in the greater Charlotte area.

Here is a link to our conference brochure and registration –
For additional information email us at

Private Dollars help Children of Mecklenburg County

[Charlotte, NC, February 6, 2017] – Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is pleased to announce it has received a $300,000 grant from the Vanguard Community Stewardship program. This partnership funds the expansion of existing Smart Start evidence based programs designed to support the healthy development of children and to ensure kindergarten readiness. Specifically the grant expands YMCA’s Parents as Teachers, Reach Out & Read and Smart Start Healthy Families.

“Vanguard’s support tangibly demonstrates their commitment to being a community partner. Their generous gift will enable these three programs to better serve children in ways that enhance their chances of full and successful lives” says Robert McCarter, Interim Executive Director at Smart Start of Mecklenburg County.

The Vanguard Community Stewardship program helps provide a strong start for young children in communities near each of the investment company’s U.S. sites. More than 1,500 of Vanguard’s 15,000 global crew (employees) are based in Charlotte. This initiative for young children is funded through a combination of Vanguard corporate gifts and Vanguard crew gifts from the company’s annual giving campaign.

This partnership fully aligns with Smarts Starts Mission to facilitate the delivery of a high quality, collaborative, accountable system of care, family support, health services and education for every child beginning with birth.



Local Business Leaders and Policy Makers Work Together to Change the Conversation on Parenting in Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina – In a bold move for children & families in Mecklenburg, Smart Start of Mecklenburg County (SSMC) and ZFive have selected a group of policy makers, business leaders, and community influencers to engage in a new initiative that is changing the traditional conversation on parenting.

“At Smart Start, we are painfully aware of the impact family stress is having on our community as a whole. We knew that in order to start talking about solutions, we had to broaden the conversation to educate the business community and elected officials”, says Jane Meyer, Executive Director at SSMC.

On November 10th from 1:00-2:30pm at First Presbyterian Church in uptown Charlotte the group will view part one of the documentary series The Raising of America (airing locally this fall on WTVI) followed by a panel discussion featuring Senators Jeff Tarte and Jeff Jackson focusing on their work with the North Carolina Bi-Partisan Caucus on Early Childhood. Attendees will be encouraged to take action in many ways, one of which will be attending one of a dozen community cafes across the county where they will participate alongside local families in conversations about the specific challenges facing their community.

Ariana Shainfar, member of ZFive explained the importance of broadening the audience, “We want to eliminate the stigma that social & family issues are only solved through legislation.

Policy is an important piece of the puzzle, but employers – for example – have an opportunity to make a significant difference through family leave and flexible work hour policies that have been proven to improve productivity and morale.”
Support for this community conversation is provided in part by the Foundation for the Carolinas as well as local organizations serving as hosts for the upcoming community cafes.

Hearts Beat as One Foundation, Smart Start of Mecklenburg County to bring Dolly Parton Imagination Library to Charlotte

Charlotte, NC, January 2, 2015 – The Hearts Beat as One Foundation and Smart Start of Mecklenburg County today announced a new partnership to bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to the Charlotte community. Hearts Beat as One has pledged to raise over $300,000 to launch the program, which will be administered locally by Smart Start staff. The initial phase of this pledge has secured go-ahead funding to provide enrollment for all 2015 newborns in the 28205 zip code.

The partnership brings together two multi-faceted organizations to implement and expand proven initiatives to support the advancement of child literacy in Charlotte. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library, the first of such initiatives, was created by Dolly Parton as a part of the Dollywood Foundation. The Library mails one book per month to each child enrolled from birth until age five.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library ( is currently provided in over 1,600 communities to almost 700,000 children across the United States, Canada, the UK, and Australia, and delivers over 8.3 million free books per year. Following in the footsteps of several successful Imagination Library campaigns in North Carolina, The Hearts Beat as One partnership with Smart Start marks the Library’s first presence here in Charlotte.

“We are excited to bring a wonderful, well-known program to our city,” said Joe Davis, Chairman/Director of the Hearts Beat as One Foundation. “This partnership carries two amazing missions forward. We are proud to stand with Smart Start to continue their work to improve the critical first 2,000 days of life for our local children. As a new Charlotte non-profit, this partnership also allows us to build on our first-year accomplishments in 2014 and work toward an even brighter 2015.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to forge new partnerships and to provide early literacy initiatives and awareness to families with young children who are at risk,” said Jane Meyer, executive director of Smart Start of Mecklenburg County.

Launching the Dolly Parton Imagination Library with Smart Start is part of a larger mission for the Hearts Beat as One Foundation. Incorporating this initiative as part of its Education & Employment tenet, the organization takes a step toward establishing a strong presence in each of its seven core focus areas.

The Hearts Beat as One Foundation and Smart Start of Mecklenburg County are also joined by key community partners to launch the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in Charlotte: Levine Children’s Hospital, Novant Health, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, NoDa Brewing Company, and Truliant Federal Credit Union.

Local Family Practice is Helping to Raise Ready Readers in Mecklenburg County

Charlotte, North Carolina – Al Austin, charlotte city councilman district2, will join Biddle Point Family Practice, Reach Out and Read® (ROR) and Smart Start of Mecklenburg County on December 9th at 12:30pm- noon to reveal their new literacy corners. The literacy corners provide families and children with the opportunity to enjoy reading as they await medical appointments.
Biddle Point Family Practice has partnered with ROR of the Carolinas for over 10 years to bring books, information and education on the importance of literacy to the families they’ve served for over a decade.

Research shows that when parents engage in reading aloud with their child there is a significant increase in expressive and receptive language as well as vocabulary building. The new literacy corners offer parents the opportunity to have that engagement during an otherwise unused time in the waiting room.

ROR is a national evidence-based model that makes early literacy a standard part of pediatric primary care with a special emphasis on children who grow up in low-income communities.



Charlotte, NC – On Thursday, October 16th, Smart Start of Mecklenburg County will host the second annual Toast for Tots at Nan and Byron’s, voted “best new restaurant for 2014” in the southend district by Charlotte Magazine. Guests will enjoy a great cocktail party with delicious food, beverages, a fun raffle, and a live auction hosted by Charlotte City Councilwoman, LaWana Mayfield.

The event will raise funds for Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, a local nonprofit that funds programs for children birth to five. A portion of the proceeds will be dedicated to early literacy. Since 1993, Smart Start has supported an array of valuable services for young children and their families in areas of health, family support and early childhood education. Over the past several years, the State Legislation has cut Smart Start by millions of dollars, increasing the need to raise additional revenue.

The event’s premium sponsor is PNC Bank. Tickets are now available on Smart Start’s website at

Toast for Tots
Thursday, October 16th @ 5pm
Nan and Byron’s Restaurant,
1714 South Blvd., Charlotte, NC
@MeckSmartStart, @PNCNews @CokeCCBCC


Charlotte, NC – The First 2,000 Days Speakers Bureau represents a diverse group of presenters
from across the state and a variety of sectors – business, education, faith and law enforcement,
who are leaders in their communities. They will speak to organizations about why early learning
is critical to our state and nation’s future.

Founding Members of the First 2000 Days Speakers Bureau include:

 William Anderson, Chief of Police for the City of Asheville, NC.
 Dr. Terri Colón, lead early childhood instructor at Craven Community College in New
Bern, NC.
 Dr. Vivian I. Correa, UNCC professor in the Department of Special Education and Child
Development at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte
 Chris George, Senior Vice President and Retail Regional Manager at PNC Bank in
Wilmington, NC.
 Reverend Tommy James, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Burnsville, NC.
 Stacie LeGrow, Legal Director at Cisco Systems, Inc. in Cary, NC.
 Beth Moore, Senior Director of Little Stepping Stones Child Development Center in
Garner, NC.

“Early learning programs are critical to school success especially for special learners. The First
2000 Days initiative tells this story in a way that is accessible to everyone,” said Dr. Correa.

There are only 2,000 days from the time a baby is born to when that child shows up for the first
day of kindergarten. Because 90% of brain development occurs during those first 2,000 days,
early experiences have a lasting impact on children’s later learning, health and life success. With
quality early childhood experiences, more children will be school ready, have better high school
graduation rates and grow into productive citizens and valuable employees.

The First 2000 Days is an initiative of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation
(NCECF). NCECF’s mission is to marshal North Carolina’s great people, ideas and
achievements to build a foundation of opportunity and success for every child by the end of 3rd
grade. It works to build public will, accelerate what works and ignite action that closes the
achievement gap and raises outcomes for all young children.

Pastors, county managers, business leaders, sheriffs, community college administrators and other
community leaders are engaged in the First 2,000 Days initiative. To date more than 750 faith
leaders, 400 business leaders and 1000 community leaders have attended a First 2,000 Days
briefing. Over 40% have signed-on to take continued action on behalf of young children.

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is a local nonprofit that funds programs for families and
children birth to five in areas of health, family support, and early childhood education. To inquire
about becoming a local First 2000 Days Champion for Children, please contact Jennifer Taylor at For more information, visit Smart Start of Mecklenburg County’s
website at


Charlotte, NC – Mecklenburg County Sheriff Chipp Bailey will be hosting a judicial law enforcement summit on “Building Safe Communities Through Early Childhood Investments” Monday, July 21st at noon (presentation begins at 12:20) at the Mecklenburg County Government Center in Charlotte, NC. The keynote speaker is Ben David, District Attorney for New Hanover and Pender counties of North Carolina.

The event is part of the First 2000 Days statewide campaign, an initiative to raise awareness about how children’s earliest years have a lasting impact on later learning, health and success and calls attention to how these issues impact our national security, safety and economic well-being. The summit is a collaborative sponsorship by Smart Start of Mecklenburg County, the Council for Children’s Rights and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation.

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is a local nonprofit that funds programs for families and children birth to five in areas of health, family support, and early childhood education. For more information, visit their website at


Charlotte, NC – Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is pleased to announce the award of a Race
to the Top Challenge grant, a federal funded initiative via the Early Learning Challenge. These
funds will be applied to the implementation of Assuring Better Health and Development
(ABCD) model, which is a proven, universal approach to screening young children in primary
health care settings.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for regional collaboration to improve developmental screening
rates and early intervention referrals for young children,” said Jane Meyer, executive director of
Smart Start of Mecklenburg County.

Smart Start will contract with the Community Care Partners of Greater Mecklenburg to provide
an ABCD Coordinator who will serve identified medical practices in Anson, Mecklenburg, and
Union Counties. The ABCD Coordinator will assist medical providers to integrate routine
developmental screening into their patient care process, use validated screening tools, talk with
parents about developmental concerns, and most importantly, help provide linkages to
community resources so when screenings reveal potential issues, the medical professional can
refer to follow-up services.

ABCD works to increase health and development screening and referral rates for all children
within the medical home by integrating routine developmental screening into well-child visits,
using either the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ) or the Parents Evaluation of
Developmental Skills (PEDS). Medical professionals are also taught to use the Modified
Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT) and to refer children needing follow-up to
appropriate community services.

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is a local nonprofit that funds programs for families and
children birth to five in areas of health, family support, and early childhood education. For more
information, visit their website at

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Each Child. Every Neighborhood.

Smart Start of Mecklenburg County
(704) 377-6588
601 E. 5th Street, Suite 500
Charlotte, NC 28202