Great Expectations: year one update

WE BEGAN WITH A BIG IDEA

 

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust launched Great Expectations in 2015 to help children in Forsyth County, N.C. enter kindergarten ready to succeed and leave set for success. 

We surveyed the educational landscape in Forsyth County and took a close look at the role we have been playing to prompt change. We determined that even though we've been supporting individual education-related programs since the Trust was established, we need to do more and do it differently. 

We pledged to invest between $30 to $40 million dollars over 10 to 15 years and partner with a wide array of partners and practitioners in an aligned fashion. Together, we're reinventing how to engage with families to find out what they need, develop coordinated effective programs, and achieve equity for the children and parents who need it most. 


TOO MANY CHILDREN BEGIN SCHOOL NOT READY TO LEARN

That's why we're making this investment in Great Expectations.

Each year, almost half of the children entering school in Forsyth County are at risk of falling behind their peers in reading. There’s a six-year spread in development among kindergartners. Those entering Title 1 schools are twice as likely to fall behind in reading.

The fact that 36 percent of our children (over 8,000) between zero to four live below the poverty line makes it harder for them to succeed academically. For black and Hispanic children in that age group, the numbers are even higher—over 50 percent live in poverty. There are fewer Hispanic students reading at grade level than in other parts of North Carolina.

Research shows that the educational impact of living in a severely disadvantaged neighborhood is equivalent to having missed an entire year of school . 

This is unacceptable. 


TOO MANY PARENTS ARE NOT BEING HEARD—AND SERVICES ARE NOT WELL COORDINATED

We realized that while we were all working hard to serve parents, their voice was missing from the dialogue. 

We decided to reinvent how we work with and learn from parents as well as members of the community.

Major obstacles—such as a lack of good jobs and quality childcare, as well as language barriers—inhibit parents’ capacity to care for children.

Support for educational programs has been out of balance and misaligned in Forsyth County for years.

There’s a lack of support services, as well as an unequal distribution of them. Many good efforts have been siloed.

That’s why we’re working together with the The Forsyth Promise to assess what’s being done across the county and look for redundancies and gaps. From this research, we will work to align programs and investments to make maximum impact.


WE'VE MADE GOOD PROGRESS, BUT WE'VE ONLY JUST BEGUN

We see the first year of Great Expectations as the seed for bigger changes to come. 

Over the past year, in partnership with the community, we've supported projects that support families and amplify their voices, improve early childhood educational services, and expand professional development of teachers and providers. 

We’ve invested in the Nurse-Family Partnership to give over 200 of Forsyth County’s first-time moms extra support during pregnancy and the first two years of their baby’s life. We launched Forsyth Connects—in partnership with Novant Health—to expand this reach. This ensures that nearly every mother and baby in Forsyth County receive a home visit from a nurse, to assist with breastfeeding and review infant health needs.

We’ve focused on the Pre-K and kindergarten years by investing in the professional development of teachers—working with The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School’s Power of K Teacher Leader initiative. 

 


THAT'S WHY WE'RE SHIFTING THE WAY WE GET THINGS DONE

We're changing the way we're engaging with families—and aligning programs with investments. 

Through our Forsyth Family Voices project, we're engaging in a continual cycle of learning with families in our community and each other. 

Through a comprehensive community analysis of services, we're determining where the gaps in services lie and where there may be redundancies. 

Through a revised grantmaking strategy, we will be making aligned investments as we move ahead. 

 

We're building collaborative bridges among agencies, community members, business leaders, policymakers, and other funders. 

Our change in approach will enable us to make smarter, more impactful investments and take coordinated action where it's needed most. 

And this is just the beginning. 


WE'RE INVESTING IN OUR COMMUNITY'S FUTURE, WHEN WE INVEST IN CHILDREN

When children succeed in school, our entire community thrives. 

There's an overwhelming body of research proving that investing in our children's success benefits all of us. 

According to the President's 2015 Report on The Economics of Early Childhood Investments, every dollar spent on early childhood initiatives provides over eight dollars in benefits back to the children themselves and to society. 

That's why our collective efforts to help children succeed in school will positively and equitably impact the entire Forsyth community for generations to come.

We can't afford not to work together to be the change. 

The time is now.