KidoNomiCs Forum Features Pathways, Family Forward NC and Local Financing Toolkit

We were excited to be thoroughly integrated into the Institute for Emerging Issues’ 2018 “KidoNomiCs” forum. Hundreds of early childhood stakeholders, foundations, academics, business people, and more came together for two days to discuss the economics of early childhood, with a focus on early education. NCECF did a presentation, led a breakout session and held a workshop during the Forum.

Pathways to Grade Level Reading took center stage at the Forum, with NCECF presenting to the full Forum audience about the Pathways process to date and the Design Team work, and involving the on-site and television audiences in helping to narrow the strategies that NC should focus on to move the needle on third grade reading proficiency. Pathways also launched a survey at the forum to collect broader input on what strategies should be prioritized. Take our survey to give us YOUR feedback!



NCECF’s Family Forward NC initiative launched at the Forum, with a breakout session that featured NC business leaders from a range of industries and sizes sharing the challenges and opportunities they face in offering family-friendly policies that provide an economic advantage. Workshop attendees were the first to hear the results of new research of more than 300 NC businesses about their practices, including their motivations and barriers to creating family friendly workplaces. NCECF also hosted a table at the Forum to share news about the Family Forward initiative with attendees. The Family Forward NC initiative is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield NC.

NCECF and the NC Budget and Tax Center led a Forum workshop on local financing of early education, featuring NCECF’s Local Financing Toolkit. The workshop provided information on the different local revenue streams available to local communities to finance early education, offered tools to assess communities’ readiness levels, and featured insights on the strategies other communities have used to secure revenue streams available under existing law.

The KidoNomiCs Forum also featured national and state experts on early childhood topics ranging from financing to health to the NC political context. Nearly every presenter and panel discussion mentioned either the Pathways to Grade-Level Reading work, the NC Campaign for Grade Level Reading, or echoed NCECF’s key values. Some highlights:

  • Audrey Choi, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer for Morgan Stanley discussed the importance of a cross-sector approach to early childhood services and policy.
  • Governor Roy Cooper talked about NC’s national leadership in early education and the importance of building on that success and discussed the community conditions that impact young children and the importance of focusing on the whole child. Governor Cooper also discussed the importance of addressing racial inequities in education and investing in early education now to ensure that NC businesses have the educated workforce they need in the future.
  • On a panel about philanthropy in early childhood, Lori O’Keefe of the Triangle Community Foundation discussed their critical support of NCECF’s capacity to work with Campaign for Grade Level Reading communities across the state.
  • A business panel structured their conversation around the importance of third grade reading proficiency to children’s long-term academic and life success. They discussed the skills gap that NC businesses are already facing and that is expected to worsen. Moderator Susan Perry-Manning, NC Deputy Secretary of Human Services, commented on brain development in the early years being the foundation of future success.
  • On a panel about the NC legislative context, NC Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen discussed the impact of ACEs on children’s development. She mentioned the importance of measuring all domains of children’s well-being, and discussed the Pathways to Grade Level Reading Measures of Success framework. Dr. Cohen framed some of her comments around the three Pathways goals – Health, Families and Communities, and Education. She also called out Pathways’ work in determining what data is collected, what data is not, and why.
  • A panel on young children’s health moderated by Laura Gerald, President of the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation, was structured around the Pathways to Grade Level Reading Measures of Success Framework, particularly the health indicators, positive parent-child interactions and reading with children, including a slide showing the Framework graphic. Dr. Gerald talked about the importance of addressing health inequities and called out a recent report by the NC Rural Health Leadership Alliance that looked at the data behind the Pathways measures in rural vs. urban counties in the state.
  • Cindy Watkins, Executive Director of the NC Partnership for Children, Inc. (Smart Start), moderated the high quality early care and education panel, and began by highlighting the Pathways framework and three goal areas – Health and Development on Track, Starting at Birth; Supported and Supportive Families and Communities; and High Quality Birth-to-age-Eight Early Care and Education with Regular Attendance. Pathways Design Team member Nicole Gardner-Neblett discussed the importance of early back and forth communication with infants and toddlers to build brain development and the cognitive, academic and social-emotional skills that are key to long term school and life success. When Cindy turned to Hedy Chang, Executive Director of national organization Attendance Works, she highlighted that the Pathways stakeholders have chosen regular school attendance as a key area of focus.

And Ralph Smith, managing director at the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, spoke to the Forum about early literacy being the gateway to success.

Visit the KidoNomiCs website to explore the full agenda and presenters, as well as to view video of the presentations and panel discussions