You Did It! Pathways Partners Give Action Framework a Thumbs-Up

Success! The newly-minted Pathways to Grade-Level Reading Action Framework received a thumbs-up from the nearly one hundred Pathways Partners in attendance at the fourth annual Pathways stakeholder meeting on Thursday, October 18. It was a busy and exciting day. Attendees:

  • Grounded the conversation in racial equity.
  • Learned the results of a recent poll of North Carolina voters on early childhood issues.
  • Mapped Pathways’ strengths, value-add, and ripple effects.
  • Used that information to think about how Pathways might be most useful as stakeholders begin to implement the Action Framework.

Access the Agenda for the day, a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation, and other meeting materials.

Pathways Partners are endorsing the Framework! If your organization is ready, complete this (very) short survey to give a thumbs-up to the Pathways Measures of Success Framework and the Pathways Action Framework.

Keep reading to learn about:

Development of the Pathways Action Framework

When the Pathways Partners last met – in March of 2017 – they authorized smaller Design Teams to spend a year listening to families and communities, researching and discussing, and to ultimately recommend a set of policies and practices that could improve children’s reading proficiency by the end of third grade. The Design Teams were charged with focusing on three priority areas – young children’s social-emotional health, high quality birth-through-age-eight education, and regular school attendance. Stakeholders focused in on these areas because the North Carolina data showed strong interconnections among the three areas, high levels of overall need, and high disparities based on race and ethnicity, income and other factors.

Design Teams met six times from summer 2017 through summer 2018 and, in addition to their own considerable expertise and lived experience, considered input from families, local service providers in 14 communities across the state, and national research on what moves the needle in these areas specifically for children of color. From hundreds of possible policy and practice changes, the Design Teams carved out a set that they thought would best move the state forward towards our collective goal of all children reading on grade-level by the end of third grade. The resulting Action Framework does not aim to be a comprehensive plan of everything children and families need to succeed. Rather, it is a place to start.

Download the Action Framework.

Thanks to four of our Design Team members who presented the Action Framework at the meeting: Marian Earls, Community Care for North Carolina; Terry Stoops, John Locke Foundation; Tina Sherman, MomsRising; and Nicky Charles, East Durham Children’s Initiative

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Pathways Continues to Provide Space for Cross-Sector Collaboration

When Pathways began, back at that first stakeholder meeting in 2015, we asked if there was interest in pursuing possibility. What would be possible if . . .

  • we adopted shared, whole-child, birth-to-eight measures that put children on a pathway to grade-level reading?
  • we coordinated strategies to support children’s optimal development beginning at birth?
  • we aligned policies and practices that were rooted in how children develop?

Pathways Partners answered with a resounding “Yes!” You came to the table, and you have continued to come to the table, from all different types of agencies and organizations that impact children’s and families’ lives. From an original group of about 90 representatives, Pathways has grown to over 500 people having participated in some way. Pathways Partners include state and local child and family agencies, early educators, family services providers, pediatricians and other medical professionals, funders in the early childhood space, policy think tanks, universities, nonprofits, advocacy groups, businesses, and thinkers from both sides of the political aisle.

At this year’s stakeholder meeting, mixed tables of representatives from the education, health, and family support sectors gave their input on the racial equity lens, the Action Framework, Pathways’ value-add and how Pathways could be helpful in the next stage – implementation. A special shout-out to Representative Craig Horn for spending the day with us! 

Pathways has been and continues to be excited to be able to provide the space and facilitation to foster successful collaborative work across representatives from so many sectors. THANK YOU for continuing to come together on behalf of young children and their families.

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Pathways Leads with Racial Equity

Pathways uses an equity lens, focused explicitly but not exclusively on racial equity. In doing their work, the Design Teams aimed to prioritize actions that would improve outcomes for children of color, and also for children from low-income families, children and families who don’t speak English, and children with disabilities. Building strategies to improve outcomes for these groups of children will improve outcomes for all our children, while the reverse is not necessarily true – building systems for “all children” often leaves these groups of children behind.

With funding from the North Carolina Partnership for Children/Smart Start, Pathways was fortunate to work with Sterling Freeman and Kathleen Crabbs of OpenSource Leadership Strategies during the Design Team process. Kathleen and Sterling provided a racial equity training for the Design Team members, attended every Design Team meeting, and worked with NCECF staff in between meetings to help the group continue to keep the “slippery fish of race” on the table. The resulting Action Framework proposes specific actions to increase racial equity in the areas that matter for third grade reading proficiency.

Design Team members held up the racial equity lens as one of the most important pieces of the work. They created a statement to share what they mean by a racial equity lens, and why they feel it is so critical to this work.

Thanks to our Racial Equity Committee, composed of Design Team members, who finalized the statement and presented it at the meeting:

  • Phil Redmond, The Duke Endowment
  • Cyndi Soter-O’Neil, ChildTrust Foundation
  • Nicole Gardner-Neblett, University of North Carolina
  • Jill Singer, Early Intervention Branch, Division of Public Health, NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • Barbara Leach, Family Support Network of North Carolina
  • Maty Ferrer, Hispanic Family Center, Catholic Charities
  • Karla Buitrago, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina
  • Cindy Dewey, NC Department of Public Instruction
  • Rhonda Rivers, LeafSpring Schools
  • Tina Sherman, MomsRising

Watch Design Team members presenting the racial equity statement at the stakeholder meeting, and download the statement.

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North Carolina Voters Support Investing in What Matters for Early Literacy

A recent poll by a bipartisan polling team finds that there is strong support among North Carolina voters for the issues that Pathways focuses on. Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike favor a wide range of state investments in young children’s healthy development beginning at birth to ensure their success in school and life. Eighty percent of voters said that early learning investments are very important to help children achieve their third-grade reading goals. NCECF shared these polling results at the Pathways stakeholder meeting.

Support for early childhood investments has grown significantly since 2014. The percentage of voters saying we should do more for young children’s education has increased by 15 points since 2014 to 80 percent, including a 15-point increase among Republicans and a 27 percent increase among Independents.

Download NCECF’s 2018 Voter Poll Toolkit to see levels of voter support for home visiting, Smart Start and NC Pre-K, raising early educator compensation and standards, and other early childhood investments. Help spread the word that NC voters support investments in early childhood by using tools like the press release and letter to the editor templates, social media resources, PowerPoint presentation, fact sheet, and more.

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Stakeholders Define Pathways’ Value-Add

The Pathways process has resulted in a level of cross-sector participation and vetting of the Measures of Success Framework and the Action Framework that stakeholders find added significant value. Taking the time needed to use a racial equity lens, include cross-sector actors, and encourage partners to step out of their silos strengthened the process. Addressing the child in the context of her family and community, getting to specific, meaningful actions, focusing on cultural relevancy, and being research- and data-driven all added credibility, authority and legitimacy to the resulting Frameworks.

This is feedback shared by attendees at the stakeholder meeting, when asked to map Pathways’ strengths and value-add to date. By understanding how Pathways has added value in the process so far, we can determine in what ways Pathways could be helpful as North Carolina shifts into implementation of the Action Framework.

This beautiful art by graphic artist Jim Nuttle of Crowley and Co. captures the feedback shared.


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Stakeholders Brainstorm How Pathways Moves to Implementation

We invited meeting attendees to think about how North Carolina should move from development of the Pathways Measures of Success and Action Frameworks to implementation of the recommended policies and practices. The Pathways process has been a collective effort, and implementation of the Action Framework will be collective as well.

Based on Pathways’ strengths and value-add they communicated, we asked them to brainstorm how Pathways could best be helpful as we move into the implementation phase of the work. They came up with a wealth of ideas, which we’ll be testing with you, the broader group of Pathways Partners, in the weeks to come. Be on the look-out for one more Pathways survey to let us know which possible Pathways actions would be the most useful as we move into implementation of the Framework.

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Pathways has Broad Ripple Effects

Meeting attendees also helped us map Pathways’ “ripple effects” – how Pathways tools, resources or process have helped advance their own work. Graphic artist Jim Nuttle of Crowley and Co. was in attendance for the day to capture attendees’ ripples, and those tweeted from across the state with the hashtag #PathwaysRipple.

Check out Jim’s beautiful art and continue to tweet YOUR #pathwaysripple effects. We are still collecting them!


What’s Coming Next . . .

  • The Pathways Action Framework will be officially released in the next month.
  • Pathways Partners will continue endorsing the Framework by completing this (very) short survey.
  • NCECF will share meeting attendees’ ideas on how Pathways can be helpful in supporting implementation of the Action Framework with the broader list of Pathways Partners and ask you to rank the proposed ideas by how useful you think they will be.
  • Pathways will launch a process to highlight gaps in the NC data behind the Pathways Measures of Success and begin improving the state’s data collection and analysis.
  • As implementation of the Framework gets underway, we will share first/next steps proposed by the Design Team for the items in the Action Framework.