The Belk Foundation and ChildTrust Invest in Early Literacy

ChildTrust and The Belk Foundation and are investing in early literacy through grants to the NC Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF).

With its $85,000 award, ChildTrust will support NCECF’s role as the state lead for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The Campaign is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children from low-income families succeed in school, graduate prepared for college, a career and life success. There are currently four campaigns in North Carolina – Read Charlotte, Wake Up and Read, Moore County and Gaston County – and several more are in the process of joining.

The Belk Foundation awarded NCECF a $25,000 grant to support its work convening state and community leaders to define a common vision, shared measures of success and coordinated strategies that support children’s optimal development for life and reading success. More than 85 government agency, legislative, foundation, nonprofit, business and community leaders met in November to launch this work. A Data Action Team is conducting a landscape survey of existing national birth-to-eight indicators and those indicators being used by NC state-level organizations. It will ultimately will select – in concert with a larger group of stakeholders – a limited number of measures of success that best suit NC’s context based on our state’s strengths and needs.

By 2020, 68 percent of North Carolina jobs will require some post-secondary education. Yet, the majority of our fourth graders – 62 percent of all students and 75 percent of students from economically disadvantaged families – are not proficient in a key predictor of future academic success – reading. (National Assessment of Educational Progress)

Grade-level reading is achievable with policies and practices in place to reflect that reading is a cumulative process, developing at birth and rooted in early brain development. To be successful readers by third grade, children need good health, strong families and high quality early learning environments that build social-emotional and cognitive development.

NCECF has a bold vision that each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for lifelong success and reading proficiency, supported by the nation’s best birth-to-eight system. NCECF builds public will by advancing understanding of birth-through-eight child development and promotes practice and policy solutions that drive aligned action to support each child being on a pathway to grade-level reading. It serves as the state lead for the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Learn more at