$245,000 Awarded to Achieve Grade-Level Reading in North Carolina

Raleigh, NC – The NC Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF), a statewide nonprofit driven by the vision that each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for lifelong health, education and well-being, has been awarded grants totaling $245,000 from The Belk Foundation, Goodnight Educational Foundation, Skeebo Foundation, and Z Smith Reynolds Foundation.

The funds will support NCECF’s work to promote understanding, spearhead collaboration, and advance policies to ensure each North Carolina child is on track for lifelong success by the end of third grade. The grants include:

  • A two-year grant of $60,000 from The Belk Foundation (2017-2018)
  • A gift of $25,000 from the Goodnight Educational Fund
  • A three-year grant of $75,000 from the Skeebo Foundation (2017-2019)
  • A one-year grant of $85,000 from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (2017)

“Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation, career and life success, yet 65 percent of children in North Carolina are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade,” said Johanna Anderson, executive director of The Belk Foundation. “NCECF is working to reverse this epidemic, so that all children have a strong base for future academic success.”

“Increasing third-grade reading proficiency is critical to the future success of North Carolina children and sustained economic growth in our state. The strong coalition of partners the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation has brought together for the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Initiative will help us put into place the policies and programs necessary to achieve this goal,” said Ann Goodnight. “We support the thoughtful and evidence-based approach led by the Foundation to ensure all North Carolina children are prepared to succeed in school and beyond.”

“The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is deeply appreciative of NCECF’s dedicated staff and its commitment to inspiring people across the state to recognize the importance of a high quality, comprehensive, early childhood education,” said Mo Green, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “Alongside its national, state, and local partners, NCECF is generating exciting momentum around a more holistic dialogue about the needs of children, birth to eight years old.”

The new support will allow NCECF to build on its work to create partnerships among the state’s early learning and education, public agency, policy, philanthropic and business leaders to define a common vision, shared measures of success and coordinated strategies that support children’s optimal development beginning at birth. In 2016, state leaders co-created shared birth-to-eight, whole-child measures of success to put children on a pathway to grade-level reading. The NC General Assembly highlighted this work in the 2016 budget when it passed provisions calling for greater birth-to-eight coordination across agencies and organizations, “including consideration of the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading.” Pathways is an initiative of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation in partnership with NC Child, NC Partnership for Children and Excellence (BEST NC).

NCECF also serves as the state lead organization for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The Campaign recognizes that achieving grade-level reading will take engaged communities that are mobilized to remove barriers, expand opportunities, and assist parents in fulfilling their roles to serve as full partners in the success of their children. In 2016, NCECF increased the number of NC Campaign communities from 3 to 13.