Greetings from Smart Start of Mecklenburg County!  

I know we all entered 2021, hoping that this year would be much different from 2020. Unfortunately, the change hasn’t been as fast or drastic as expected. From our organization’s perspective, we’ve continued to see a teacher shortage in early childhood education, the increasing need for quality child care centers for essential workers, and parents struggling with family and career priorities.

Despite the current challenges, our staff and board have been diligently working to improve the lives of young children and their families in our community. Throughout 2021, we have continued to work with our partners to advance our mission. We have also engaged in new efforts to improve the early childhood environment in the greater Charlotte area, including:

  • In partnership with Read Charlotte, launched the Ready4K platform in Mecklenburg County.
  • Hosted the inaugural Partner Powered Conference for our funded partners and programs.
  • Published the Taming the Octopus report, which led to our Early Childhood Solutions Group.
  • Saw continued growth in the MECK Pre-K program, with 105 classrooms currently in operation.
  • Hired our first Chief Early Education Officer as a crucial step in moving towards universal pre-k.
  • Launched our first round of Innovation Grants in the spring and announced our second-round last month.
  • Provided free training opportunities for the evidence-based Parent-Child Interactive Therapy for local clinicians.
  • Fully funded the local WAGE$ program, improving the quality of early care and education for young children.

These are just a few examples of the initiatives our dedicated staff work on daily. We are able to continue this work thanks to assistance from people like you. Your support allows us to “think outside the box” and pivot quickly to meet the needs of our community. It also allows us to serve as the innovative hub, community convener, and leading organization regarding prenatal-to-five issues and initiatives in Mecklenburg County.

As the end of the year approaches, I would like to ask that you thoughtfully consider making a donation to Smart Start. Your generous gift will allow us to continue to drive solutions and positive change in the early childhood space and help us ensure that all children turn five ready to thrive. Gifts of any amount are greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance for remembering and investing in Smart Start of Mecklenburg County as this year comes to a close. We look forward to sharing even more in the New Year.


Jake House

Jake House