Fathers Ready to Camp

By Stephanie Skordas, Director of Communications

“Campers have s’more fun,” they say, and a group of Guilford Parent Leader Network (GPLN) families spent a night under the stars at Oak Hollow Park Campground in High Point, N.C. on June 24, 2023. It was the first Fathers Ready to Grow campout.

Fathers Ready to Grow is led by GPLN members Harrison Spencer and Eugene Penn. It is a group for fathers of children ages 0-8, who meet monthly to network and support each other. “We looked forward to the in-person contact as opposed to the virtual. The fathers in the group expressed their interest, plus being outdoors in nature is a love of mine,” Spencer said.

The group of about two dozen pitched their tents and set up camp with a scenic view of Oak Hollow Lake. Children and parents explored the lakeside and played games. After a week of rain, the weather held for the campers.

“This was the best trip ever! I enjoyed being able to go camping for the first time alongside other parents in the community. The fellowship, teamwork, food, and memories created will last a lifetime,” said Airreia Pierce, a GPLN Steering Committee member. “My husband was able to participate and connect with other fathers. [It was a] beautiful event that should continue to grow in the future with more families.”

Another highlight of the night was a movie under the stars. One of the campers brought an inflatable screen and projector so the families could settle in before bedtime.

“I really enjoyed Father’s Ready to Grow first camping trip,” said Melissa Little, a GPLN member. “The location was perfect. The fathers, Mr. Geno and Mr. Jamaal, handled everything. I didn’t have to lift a finger except to eat. I’m anticipating next year.”

Little says the fathers who arranged the camping trip ensured families were comfortable, their tents were properly set up and handled the other arrangements for a wonderful time together.

“This speaks volumes to others around who were watching, which shows that there is truly strength in numbers and that fathers are still involved with their families,” Pierce said. “It was powerful that we were able to come together and join in on something positive for our families.”

“We talked, laughed, and engaged that night together,” Spencer said. “It was a great event, and we hope to do it again soon.”

If you’d like more information about Fathers Ready to Grow or the Guilford Parent Leader Network, please contact Family Engagement Manager Yuri Alston.


Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) invites you to join us for our annual convening event. Here you’ll learn more about the proven programs implementing the Routes to Ready navigation system, new strategies for families with children ages 3-8, and why we’re creating a neighborhood strategy as part of the cradle-to-career continuum.

Special guest keynote:

Ron Ferguson, Founder and President, The Basics

Ron Ferguson launched The Basics movement seven years ago, while the Faculty Director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University.  Across 40 years at Harvard Kennedy School, his teaching, research, and social entrepreneurship have always focused on human and economic development, culminating with his current focus on early-childhood parenting and caregiving, as foundations for all that follows. Today, the Basics Learning Network has affiliated coalitions in nearly 100 communities in the US, Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, and Canada. 

Ron’s most recent book, co-authored with journalist Tatsha Roberston, Is “The Formula: Unlocking the Secrets to Raising Highly Successful Children,” published in February 2019. Based on the life stories of extremely successful young adults, as told by them and their parents, the book reveals eight elements of “master parenting” — covering birth to early adulthood — that appear repeatedly in the stories of families from a wide range of racial, ethnic, and income-level backgrounds. 

Ron earned an undergraduate degree from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from MIT, both in economics. He and his wife Helen have raised three boys, now in their 30s.



Sponsorship opportunities:

Champion: $20,000 (1 available)

Sponsor recognition in all materials
Opportunity to speak at the event welcome
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Includes 16 event tickets with table sponsor recognition (x2) and VIP seating *

Advocate: $10,000 (1 available)

Opportunity to speak at event closing
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Includes 8 event tickets with table sponsor recognition (x1) and VIP seating *

Speaker: $7,500 (1 available)

Opportunity to introduce keynote speaker
Sponsor recognition in materials related to the speaker
Event signage and materials
Recognition on projector screen
Website and social media recognition
Includes 8 event tickets with table sponsor recognition (x1) and VIP seating *

Partner: $5,000 (2 available)

Event signage and materials
Recognition on projector screen
Website and social media recognition
Includes 8 event tickets with table sponsor recognition (x1) and VIP seating *

*guaranteed table in first or second row

Fan: $2,500 (5 available)

Recognition on projector screen
Website and social media recognition
Includes 8 event tickets with table sponsor recognition

Friend: $1,000 (12 available)

Company name listed
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Buddy: $40 ticket – individual contribution

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Registration information coming soon.

William Julius Wilson Institute visits Ready Ready

By Stephanie Skordas, Director of Communications

Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) hosted members of the William Julius Wilson Institute (WJWI) at Harlem Children’s Zone and The Duke Endowment to explore the system of care we are building in Guilford County on May 23, 2023.

“When WJWI expressed interest in coming for a visit, we asked them – how much time do you have?” said Charrise Hart, Ready Ready’s chief executive officer. “Our work collaborates with so many partners in Guilford County that it was a challenge to fit a snapshot into just one day.”

Nationally recognized innovator in education and place-based work, Geoffrey Canada is the president of Harlem Children’s Zone and founder of WJWI. He and six WJWI staff members asked Ready Ready to share the place-based system-building work being done in Guilford County.

“We have seen just extraordinary early childhood work with the folks at Ready Ready,” Canada said. “We think there’s a lot of promise here to demonstrate to the rest of the country what it really means to come together for the most disadvantaged children and make sure they’re successful.”

  • Hart kicked off the day-long visit with an overview of Ready Ready’s position as a backbone organization and our mission to build a connected, innovative system of care for Guilford County’s youngest children and their families.
  • Vice President of Strategic Impact Jaqueline McCracken explained how Ready Ready has focused on coordinated care, developing an Integrated Data System for use within the Routes to Ready navigation system to connect families with children to effective programs and services – and identify gaps.
  • Vice President of Public Will Building Heather Adams focused on Ready Ready’s equity work, commitment to family voice, and targeted neighborhood strategy to improve child and family outcomes in Guilford County’s highest need areas.

With partnership from Children & Families First, the WJWI visitors explored a drop-in child care center for children whose parents take classes in budgeting, job training, and more at the facility’s Family Success Center. The tour included Early Head Start and N.C. Pre-K classrooms where a graduate of the Child Development Associate (CDA) program explained how she was inspired to earn her CDA credential to create her career path as an early childhood educator.

Children & Families First CEO Maria Layne-Stevens shared her organization’s mission to help low-income, underemployed adults to earn a livable wage and receive the training and education needed to become fully proficient early child care providers. A second cohort has begun their training.

At a lunchtime keynote and fireside chat with Hart, Canada shared lessons learned from decades of work with Harlem Children’s Zone and how WJWI is working to help other place-based organizations like Ready Ready access the supports they need to be successful.

A visit to Hope Academy GSO in collaboration with shift_ed allowed Ready Ready to share how we are working with the community to build a cradle-to-career network. Shift_ed President and CEO Wendy Poteat shared her organization’s work to support students and graduates at every level of the education continuum.

The WJWI visitors said they were encouraged and inspired by their visit to Guilford County.

“One of the reasons I’m really excited is that when we travel around the country, not a lot of people have figured out how essential it is to start working with families at conception and staying with them – particularly those first three or four years. The science on this is clear; it is irrefutable,” Canada said. “If we never let kids get behind, it is so much easier in pre-K, kindergarten, and elementary school for our kids to stay on grade level. So [Ready Ready is] starting early here, and it is a program of national significance.”