Smart Start of Mecklenburg County is known for allocating state, county, and private funds to local early childhood serving agencies. 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 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 identifying outcome disparities for vulnerable families and the fall-out of pandemic response on preschool-aged children.

One of our 2022 grant recipients is Queen City (QC) Cocoa B.E.A.N.S., an organization that comprises lactation consultants, doulas, dietitians, health educators, social workers, and peer counselors – all people of color. For the last 7 years, the implementation of initiatives has primarily been accomplished by only a few individuals through volunteerism, community collaboration, and the generosity of donors. After incorporating into a 501(c)3 non-profit in 2020, they have reached more families in our community.

Please continue reading to learn more about upcoming events hosted by QC Cocoa B.E.A.N.S., which help children turn five ready to thrive. 

 

Typically, QC Cocoa B.E.A.N.S. conducts monthly cafes, or support groups. Since the pandemic began, all groups have been hosted virtually. This gives families a safe space and an opportunity to meet other families and consult a lactation consultant who is always present. Families are welcome regardless of infant feeding preference. Infants, older children, and friends are also welcome.
The organization is also starting training sessions for new and expectant Black fathers. Daddy B.E.A.N.S. Mentoring Program serves as a forum for African American fathers to join a safe space to be themselves sharing new tips and tricks around a variety of topics involving their little ones. 

Thank You to Our Community Partners

Winer Family Foundation
Vanguard
NCPC

View Complete List of 2022 Innovation Grant Partners