NC Communities Consider Local Financing for Early Learning

North Carolina Chambers of Commerce leaders, County Commissioners, early learning program providers, private foundations, community organizations, local school board members, Smart Start local partnerships and business leaders spent a day together discussing how to make greater investments in young children.  Thirty leaders from Buncombe, Durham and Forsyth counties learned about local financing options to expand early learning programs in their communities.

“If your community is considering locally expanding early care and education services, this toolkit and workshop are essential to your planning,” said  Jennie Eblen, Chair, Asheville-Buncombe Preschool Planning Collaborative.

The training was led by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) and the NC Budget and Tax Center (BTC ). It builds on NCECF’s Local Funding for Early Learning: A Community Toolkit that provides essential information and necessary steps when considering a local financing initiative. Successful initiatives are profiled in the toolkit – detailing strategies, opportunities and challenges, getting to action and results.

The toolkit was guided by an Advisory Council:

  • Linda Struyk Millsaps, Research Director of the NC Association of County Commissioners
  • Kara A. Millonzi, Associate Professor of Public Law and Government at the University of North Carolina School of Government
  • Jerry Schafer, Vice-President for Worldwide Development for McDonald’s Corporation
  • Mark Wells, rural economic development expert.
  • Joe Waters, Vice President of the Institute for Child Success

Participants in the training heard from national and local experts:

  • Elizabeth Gaines, Senior Fellow at the national Forum for Youth Investment, shared her knowledge and experiences in working with executive and legislative policymakers across the nation to improve children and youth policy.  Gaines is a leading expert in establishing dedicated state and local funding for early learning.
  • Via video conference Ana Acevedo, Education Policy Administrator for the City of San Antonio, Texas, who shared the lessons learned from the City’s Pre-K program funded by sales tax since 2012.
  • Dr. Linda Struyk Millsaps, Research Director for the NC Association of County Commissioners, gave participants an overview of NC counties post-election.  She catalogued voter approval and denial of a wide range of referendums across the state.

“The training was valuable because it brought together different stakeholders to develop a strategy based in real knowledge of different ways to reach it, from the funding standpoint and making the case,” said Pilar Rocha, Executive Director, El Centro Hispano

Three NC Communities Initiatives

Asheville-Buncombe Team

The Asheville-Buncombe Preschool Planning Collaborative is a group of community leaders working to create a collective plan for ensuring that every three- and four-year-old in the city and county has access to affordable, high-quality preschool.





Durham Team


The Durham Community Early Education/Preschool Task Force was created by the School Board, City Council and County Commissioners in support of universal access to pre-kindergarten and appropriate strategies to improve early literacy in the county.




Forsythe Team


The Forsyth Universal Pre-K Initiative is dedicated to making Forsyth the first county in NC with a system of quality Pre-K programs that are available to all children.

At least a dozen other communities have expressed interest in the training across North Carolina.  Stayed tuned for details in 2017!





What People are Saying About the Online Toolkit

“This is excellent!  Thanks so much for developing and sharing this helpful resource.”
Cindy Cisneros, Vice President of Education Programs
Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board

“The new on-line resource  Local Funding for Early Learning: A Community Toolkit  is fabulous!  Very comprehensive. Very easy to use. Really nice job. Kudos!”
Louise Stoney
Alliance for Early Childhood Finance Opportunities Exchange