On behalf of Ready for School, Ready for Life’s Board of Directors and staff, we are pleased to announce that through our collective efforts and our partnership with The Duke Endowment, Guilford County has been selected for a multi-year investment from Blue Meridian Partners to pilot and grow an initiative to improve outcomes for children. Blue Meridian is a national partnership of impact-driven philanthropists seeking to transform life trajectories of America’s children and youth by making large investments in promising solutions.
This marks an exciting new phase of the work that started in 2014 when a broad cross-section of community leaders, families and organizations began to develop and implement a vision to ensure every child in Guilford County enters Kindergarten ready for school and ready for life.
The Blue Meridian investment totals $32.5 million and will fund key priorities to plan, design and implement a system that, in time, will seamlessly connect a wide range of services for the 6,000 children born in Guilford County each year. We currently refer to this work as the Get Ready Guilford Initiative. Priorities include:
- Expanding three existing and proven programs that serve families prenatally through age 3 (Guilford Family Connects, HealthySteps and Nurse-Family Partnership).
- Developing a navigation system to connect families with effective services prenatally through age 3.
- Working with local programs in a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) effort to build capacity for using data in service delivery and decision-making.
- Building supporting technologies to facilitate coordination among child- and family-serving agencies and organizations.
- Conducting rigorous evaluation for learning and impact to understand what works for families.
- Strengthening the backbone organization that will continue to manage and execute this growing initiative.
Milestones to be achieved over the next three years have been developed in each priority area, with the potential for additional investments in subsequent phases of our work.
We are thankful for the efforts from so many individuals to help secure the Blue Meridian investment, including the Ready for School, Ready for Life staff and our partner The Duke Endowment. The Duke Endowment is a regional funding partner in Blue Meridian and is investing significant resources to help us catalyze change in our community, evolve our organization to welcome more partners and develop strategies to test, refine and scale our work.
Through collaboration with other partners, Ready for School, Ready for Life will continue its work on multiple fronts that are critical to achieving better child outcomes, such as implementing the county-wide early literacy strategic plan, improving transitions from Pre-K to Kindergarten and making high quality, affordable childcare available to all families.
All of this work is driven by our knowledge that 85 percent of brain development takes place from birth to age 3. Ensuring children are prepared to enter Kindergarten directly influences their ability to read on grade level in third grade. That benchmark is the number one indicator if a child will graduate from high school, which drastically increases the odds of gainful employment, continuing education, leading a healthy lifestyle and overall life success.
We look forward to embarking on this critical next phase. Everyone has an important role to play as we work together to create and sustain an innovative system of care that matches families with effective interventions and resources, improves child and family outcomes and reduces disparities that currently begin at birth.
Please feel free to share this news within your organizations and stay tuned for future updates.
Ed Kitchen & Susan Schwartz
Co-Chairs, Ready for School, Ready for Life