Partner Spotlight: D-Up

“I’m really excited about joining Ready Ready’s CQI cohort, “ said Jakki Davis, executive director of D-Up, a High Point-based nonprofit focused on helping youth and families. “We’ve done a great job of developing relationships and rapport with our families, but we want to do even better. CQI is going to help us better assess needs and build capacity.”

Ready Ready is excited to extend the opportunity and the funding to organizations like D-Up to join our Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) initiative. These selected organizations and their programs will play a central role, under Ready Ready’s guidance, in strengthening and enhancing the Ready Ready continuum of early childhood support services.

D-Up’s mission is to promote education, health, and life readiness to young children and their families. While its origins began in 2007 around combating childhood obesity through basketball, the organization quickly developed new programs to meet the community’s needs. Currently, the organization offers 16 programs ranging from pre-K to afterschool care, sports, dance, summer camps, college preparation, and adult classes like financial literacy.

“When we started our nonprofit, the youngest children enrolled were age five,” Davis said. “After we came out of COVID, we realized we needed to go younger. Just this fall we started a pre-K pilot. We’ve eliminated barriers like transportation and are helping this first class of young students prepare for kindergarten three days a week.”

Davis says the nonprofit’s move to a building on Washington Street in High Point served as a catalyst for reaching more families. So much so that word of mouth keeps the programs, afterschool care, and summer camp full and with a developing waitlist. D-Up is on the cusp of launching a capital campaign to enlarge its facility, increasing its ability to serve students from around 50 to 170. That’s one reason why learning to build additional capacity through Ready Ready’s CQI initiative is so attractive.

“We pride ourselves on the family connections,” Davis said. “Every parent wants their child to thrive and we want to be there to help them. We want to be their bridge to whatever it is they need to ensure that they thrive.”

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
Event signage and materials
Recognition on projector screen
Website and social media recognition
Includes 16 event tickets with table sponsor recognition (x2) and VIP seating *

Advocate: $10,000 (1 available)

Opportunity to speak at event closing
Event signage and materials
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Website and social media recognition
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
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Friend: $1,000 (12 available)

Company name listed
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Buddy: $40 ticket – individual contribution

Online sponsorship form

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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.”

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.”

Guilford Parent Leader Network: Career pathways for parents

By Stephanie Skordas, Director of Communications

Guilford Parent Leader Network members Eugene Penn, Paulette Bernard, and Katina Allen, along with Ready Ready’s Family Engagement Manager Yuri Alston and Parent Liaison Sanaa Sharrieff, focused on leadership in Santa Ana, California, on March 20-23, 2023.

“I enjoyed every moment of the summit,” said Penn. “The men I’ve met at the summit changed the outlook on my life – seeing there are more men willing to fight for what’s right in the community.”

The EC-LINC Parent Leadership Network (PLN) Summit theme is “Nothing About Us Without Us,” and was chosen by the national PLN steering committee. Attendees learned about career pathways focused on transforming communities and parent leadership, systems change, and connecting parent stories.

“I was looking forward to hearing from other parent leaders about their career pathway experience at the conference,” said Alston. “I came away with more knowledge about how parent leaders can take their parenting or volunteer skills to build a strong resume and how organizations should allow parents to create positions that meet their strengths and needs.”

Partner Spotlight: Child First

Child First helps families build strong, nurturing relationships that heal and protect young children from the devastating impact of trauma and chronic stress. The program uses a two-generation approach, providing mental health services to parents and children through home visits and connecting them with resources, information, and support to make healthy child development possible.

“We use a team approach to help caregivers and their children ages 0-5. The caregiver isn’t always a biological parent, and sometimes it’s multiple caregivers,” said Anita Faulkner, LCMHCS and Family Solutions owner. “In many cases, there are kinship care placements. Many of the children we serve have parents who are incarcerated or may not be available due to substance abuse or other factors, and they have many different housing situations.”

Family Solutions is one of two host agencies in Guilford County for Child First. The other is Family Service of the Piedmont. Each agency has four teams of clinicians and a supervisor, so there are 18 new staff members focused on this issue, according to Faulkner. “Our teams have trained together since we began the program in June 2022. I think it’s an excellent example of community collaboration and how Ready for School, Ready for Life is bringing local organizations together to meet these gaps in services,” Faulkner said.

Science clearly shows that the early childhood years lay the foundation for later economic productivity, responsible citizenship, sound mental health, cognitive development, and physical health. According to the Child First website, high-risk environments of extreme poverty, maternal depression, domestic violence, substance abuse, homelessness, and other factors lead to toxic levels of stress that are harmful to young brains.

Because Child First focuses on two generations, the program begins with a series of assessments for the child and caregiver. “We help them understand their own trauma histories and their own stressors. It gives them insight into what they have been through and helps us set strategies to address behavior issues and deepen the relationships between a child and caregiver,” Faulkner said.

The program has two aims: to decrease the stress the family experiences by connecting them to the resources, support, and information they need and to provide parent-child psychotherapy to repair the impact of trauma on the child and strengthen the caregiving relationship.

“Because we are a home-visiting program, we realize it’s something big to let someone into your home and open up about issues your family faces,” Faulkner said. “We are helping families get to a place where they can make a positive change. Our resource partners help us with housing, furniture, food, clothing, and child care, for example. The resources are always changing, and we work together to ensure families have what they need.”

Partner Spotlight: Reading Connections

One in five people in Guilford County struggles with basic literacy skills. Reading Connections transforms our community by improving literacy and promoting educational equity for people of all ages.

“We’ve been in operation for more than 30 years and started as a way to provide extra literacy support for adults, but now it’s grown into much, much more,” said Alison Welch, Reading Connections family literacy manager. “We started the Family Literacy program in 2006 and work with parents, caregivers, and their children. We want to help parents know how they can support their children in becoming ready for kindergarten.”

Welch made the point that literacy is cyclical – which is why Reading Connections takes a multigenerational approach and partners with organizations like Ready for School, Ready for Life.

Reading Connections plans to enroll 150 families in its Guilford County program this year. In the 2020-21 academic year, 68 percent of the parents in the program reported reading more to their children, which is key to breaking the cycle of illiteracy.

“Research shows that children who start kindergarten behind their peers are less likely to experience success in school and read on grade level by third grade,” Welch said. “Working with Ready Ready and its program The Guilford Basics helps us explain to parents that early brain development is critical for future success in school.”

Reading Connections’ Family Literacy program provides six 15-week sessions during the school year at Title 1 elementary schools and community centers in Guilford County. Because parents are their children’s first teachers, the program incorporates literacy instruction for adults and children.

“A lot of the strategies included in The Basics Guilford are also included in the Motheread Fatheread curriculum we use in our program,” Welch said. “Encouraging parents to be actively engaged when reading with their kids, letting children turn the pages, repeating key phrases, or pointing at pictures are good examples. We had a Ready Ready staff member give a training in The Basics and Active Reading with our parents and loved how she emphasized that you don’t have to be reading the words on the page to engage your child in a story.”

Ready for School, Ready for Life Awards Continuous Quality Improvement Grants

The grants help organizations improve to better serve Guilford County families.

(Greensboro, N.C., August 25, 2022) – Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) has awarded $652,000 in grants to programs from 13 organizations serving families in Guilford County to participate in its second cohort of the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process. Ready Ready has partnered with The Duke Endowment and the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work on these grants to make participating in the CQI Cohort II financially possible.

“CQI is a team-based process of collecting, analyzing, and using data to improve service quality. This data helps identify efficiency, effectiveness, performance, and outcomes to provide the resources our community needs,” said Ready Ready CEO Charrise Hart. “We are glad to have such a good response from community partners who want to be involved in Ready Ready’s system-building work.”

To date, Ready Ready has had 13 programs complete CQI training. Four more are currently participating in a cohort process. CQI Cohort II launches in September 2022 and will wrap up in March 2023. The CQI Cohort II programs are:

  • Backpack Beginnings
  • The Barnabas Network
  • The Center for New North Carolinians
  • Children and Families First (formerly Guilford Child Development)
  • Greensboro Housing Authority
  • GuilfordWorks
  • The Kellin Foundation
  • Out of the Garden Project
  • Positive Direction for Youth and Families
  • Room at the Inn
  • Triad Goodwill
  • Women’s Resource Center of Greensboro
  • YWCA Greensboro

Each program will dedicate 3-4 team members who will participate in monthly learning sessions with other programs and CQI facilitators from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. Between sessions, team members will complete assignments and receive coaching from their facilitators.

“Through this work, programs will build their capacity to apply a CQI framework,” said Jacqueline McCracken, Ready Ready’s vice president for strategic impact. “This work is focused on the Model for Improvement, a powerful and flexible method that promotes a structured process for experiential learning.”

Through the CQI process, the programs will build the capacity to use program data to identify challenges or opportunities for improvement related to family experience or satisfaction. Through experiential learning, programs will gain the tools they need to generate higher performance-building capacity while serving Guilford County families and children.

“Every child deserves a great start in life, but not every child starts from the same place,” Hart said. “By using this process, the organizations in CQI Cohort II will be able to enhance the important work they are doing to assist Guilford County families with the resources, support, and information they need to give their youngest children a strong foundation for success in school and life.”

Media contact: Stephanie Skordas, Director of Marketing & Communications, or 336.579.2977 ext. 2015