Partner Spotlight: YWCA Emergency Family Shelter

The YWCA Greensboro Emergency Family Shelter offers housing, food, case management, and support for families experiencing homelessness.

“We house men and women with children,” said Tiffany Dumas, the family shelter director. “Families can stay here 30, 60, or 90 days. Each family’s progress looks a little bit different, but the ultimate goal is to help them transition into permanent supportive housing.”

The shelter can house up to seven families or 20-30 individuals. Families may need help with child care, mental health, or other needs, so Dumas says the shelter works closely with other agencies and organizations to support them.

Twice-monthly community meetings with families and shelter family advocate staff keep the lines of communication open. “It’s a place where families have a voice,” Dumas said. “It’s a place where we can talk together about programs, activities, needs, and resources.” 

Dumas credited Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) and its Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) training with helping shelter staff view their program through a new lens. The organization was part of Ready Ready’s second CQI cohort that wrapped up its nine-month sessions in March 2023. “It was so informative to hear from other agencies as we went through the CQI modules,” she said.

 Dumas describes an “aha” moment around how CQI could help the shelter measure client satisfaction on issues from cleanliness to programming to family resources. “It’s all about improvement. It’s all about expectations,” she said. “Our staff understands that survey answers aren’t punitive, and families understand that their honest answers aren’t a barrier to their stay.”

The survey asks clients to rate areas such as the cleanliness of their room at arrival, the overall experience at entry, the intake and orientation process, meals, safety, family activities, and other resources. Dumas said their answers help staff address issues, identify needs, and gain insight into ways to improve. Importantly, the survey also highlights areas of excellence. 

“I’m able to tell our CEO and board of directors where we are ranked highly and offer ideas about how we can prioritize new ideas the survey reveals,” Dumas said. “It really is imperative. I feel like every organization should do CQI.”

Ready Ready gives nearly 1,000 books to High Point pre-K students

By Stephanie Skordas, Director of Communications

In partnership with Book Harvest of Durham, N.C., Ready Ready distributed nearly 1,000 books to children in pre-K classrooms in High Point. “Books on Break is a program designed to have kids choose their books,” said Rachel Stine, Book Harvest’s director of book abundance. “We know that when kids choose their own books, not only do they identify as a reader, they become more intrinsically motivated readers.”

Ready Ready’s Ages3-8 Director Coretta Walker and Literacy Coordinator Megan LeFaivre set up rooms at Children & Families First’s Staley and Macedonia Head Start Centers with attractive groupings of books on tables – like a pool party-themed book fair. Children entered five at a time to choose the five books they wanted to take home in a personalized book bag.

“The books are culturally relevant in terms of the characters, the storylines, and the language,” Walker said. “The pre-K students were able to take home five books that they chose. They had hundreds to pick from – some early reader books, hardback, paperback – whatever they wanted to take home.”

Each child’s book bag had resources for families about kindergarten readiness and tips from The Basics Guilford.

“This is going to encourage literacy between the child and parent and boost what they’ve learned in our center so they don’t lose it over the summer,” said Donnishia Casterlow, assistant director at the Staley Center.

According to Book Harvest’s website, children growing up in homes with at least 20 books get three years more schooling than children from bookless homes, regardless of their parent’s education, occupation, and social-economic standing. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that parents start reading to their children at birth.

“We know that children learn best when they are exposed to books and hear more language spoken,” said Megan LeFaivre, Ready Ready’s literacy coordinator. “Having more books in the home, especially over the summer, will help them get ready for kindergarten.”

Ready for School, Ready for Life staff members graduate from local leadership programs

Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) staff members have graduated from Guilford County leadership programs.

Network Engagement Specialist Felicia Evans and Director of Communications Stephanie Skordas graduated from the Other Voices program on May 1, 2023.

Other Voices Diversity Leadership is the signature diversity, equity, and inclusion program of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce. The community-building curriculum brings together individuals from all life experiences to engage in frank and open dialogue to build insight and understanding of the roots of prejudice. The Class of 2023 attended monthly program meetings from September 2022 through April 2023 and is the 30th cohort to graduate from this program.

Family Engagement Manager Yuri Alston graduated from Leadership Greensboro on May 10, 2023.

Leadership Greensboro aims to create a community of leaders committed to inclusivity and collaboration. It is a unique three-part development program that looks to education, volunteer leadership, and alumni engagement to guide participants’ leadership skills over the nine-month curriculum. Each year, a diverse cohort of 45 leaders from public, private, and nonprofit sectors explore essential issues in the community.

Ready for School, Ready for Life receives Leon Levine Foundation support

(Greensboro, N.C., May 12, 2023) – Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) has received a $100,000 grant from The Leon Levine Foundation (TLLF). The grant will provide general support for Ready Ready’s mission to build a connected, innovative system of care for Guilford County’s youngest children and their families.

“Ready, Ready is a collaborative, innovative organization that we are thrilled to be in partnership with as they work to drive population-level change for Guilford County families,” said Gillian Small, program officer at The Leon Levine Foundation.

“We are grateful for The Leon Levine Foundation’s renewed grant,” said Ready Ready CEO Charrise Hart. “TLLF’s support has been important to our organization’s growth and implementation of the first phase of our work for children ages 0-3 and their healthy development. Now we are in the second phase, developing strategies for children ages 3-8 to bolster their transition to kindergarten and find success in school by third grade.”

Third-grade success is the number one indicator of high school graduation and future education or workplace goals.

Research shows that 80 percent of a child’s brain grows during their first three years of life, with a million neural connections forming every second. Creating a strong brain foundation in the first 2,000 days of a child’s life — from birth to kindergarten — is critical to emotional, physical, and cognitive well-being.

“Every child deserves a great start in life, but not every child starts from the same place,” Hart said. “Ready Ready wants every child born in Guilford County in 2023 and beyond to have the resources their families need to thrive. This grant from The Leon Levine Foundation will greatly aid our mission.”

About Ready for School, Ready for Life
Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to create a connected, innovative system of care for Guilford County’s youngest children and their families. Learn more at

About The Leon Levine Foundation
Established in 1980 by Leon Levine (Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Family Dollar Stores, Inc.), The Leon Levine Foundation supports programs and organizations that improve the human condition through investments in education, healthcare, human services and Jewish values. Based in Charlotte, N.C., the Foundation invests in nonprofits across North Carolina and South Carolina with strong leadership, a track record of success, and a plan for financial sustainability. Through its investments, the Foundation intends to create pathways to self-sufficiency, champion strategies for permanent change, and facilitate opportunities for growth.