The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has announced the launch of an early childhood education initiative that will provide between $30 million and $40 million to organizations in Forsyth County.
Over the next decade, the Great Expectations initiative will work to ensure that at least 90 percent of children from financially disadvantaged families in the county reach age-appropriate developmental milestones by the time they complete kindergarten. To that end, the trust will invest in strategies to increase community engagement, improve the systems that serve families, share knowledge and lessons learned, and build provider capacity. The initiative also will focus on direct services to children and adult caregivers with the goal of improving child and family health, bolstering self-regulation and executive function among children and adults, enhancing parent-child interactions and adult caregiving capacity, supporting children's oral language and vocabulary development, and building systems and strengthening families.
The trust also announced grants totaling more than $1.4 million to the Forsyth County Public Library, First Book, and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to expand the work of the initiative in the community. The funds will be used to support seven library branches and two bookmobile units, with the efforts of a thousand educators to provide access to high-quality and diverse age-appropriate books, and the installation or renovation of playgrounds at twenty-three Title 1 schools, many of which are in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods where there are few outlets for physical activity for children.
"Today is the end of one long journey and the beginning of another. For the last several years we have been working closely with individuals and organizations to design a strategy that ensures every child in Forsyth County has the opportunity to succeed from a young age," said Karen McNeil-Miller, president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. "Now it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work to help build an effective early childhood system that helps meet the challenges created when families live in poverty."