Introducing the Pathways Action Map: Starting with Social-Emotional Health

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The team at NC Early Childhood Foundation is excited to share the first edition of an interactive tool we’ve been creating with partners called the Pathways Action Map. This release includes 18 initiatives that are working to improve North Carolina’s social-emotional health system for young children and families. 

The Map was developed to help advance Pathways’ shared vision where all North Carolina children, regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, are reading on grade-level by the end of third grade, and all children with disabilities achieve expressive and receptive communication skills commensurate with their developmental ages, so that they have the greatest opportunity for life success. Social-emotional health is one of the areas Pathways focuses on to reach this vision. 

“Pathways is about imagining what’s possible when we work together towards a bold vision for children. The Action Map is a tool to help get us there.” – Muffy Grant, NCECF Executive Director

Spotlighting Actions and Initiatives 

The Pathways Action Map aims to highlight what’s happening across the state in 44 prioritized actions that can help move the needle on third grade reading proficiency using a whole child, birth-to-age-eight approach to literacy and child well-being.

The actions represent policy and strategy areas that Pathways partners identified for action first in NC—children’s social-emotional health, high quality early care and education, and regular school attendance. Using a racial equity lens, over 100 Design Team members drew from their own experiences and considered input from local providers, parents, and national research on what impacts these areas, specifically for children of color.

These are the prioritized actions you see in the Map. The mapped initiatives are leading efforts to impact one or more of the actions. They can be anything from grassroots efforts to policy campaigns, community and parent-led groups, privately- or publicly-funded programs, state-level work groups, and nonprofits.

Building Capacity and Connections

We imagine the Action Map being used by policy makers, funders, and advocates to learn about what’s happening in the action areas, and help build capacity through improved policy, practice, and investment. Families, communities, and initiatives can also use it to connect and help drive local action.

Over time, we hope the Action Map can help answer questions like:

  • Who is leading work in the actions and how can we support their next steps?
  • Where are the gaps and how can they be filled?
  • How are racial equity and community voices being centered?
  • Where can we align efforts and promote further collaboration? 

Exploring the Pathways Action Map

The Action Map is organized by four expectations for North Carolina systems serving young children and families, outlined in the Pathways Action Framework. We will be introducing the Map in stages. The first release focuses on Expectation 4: NC’s social-emotional health system is accessible and high-quality. Other Expectation areas and initiatives will be released in upcoming months.


Pathways Action Framework Expectation Areas in a wheel divided into four sections


To begin exploring the Action Map, which is also accessible via the Pathways webpage

  • Click on Expectation 4 of the wheel and view the prioritized strategies and actions.
  • View initiatives leading in the actions. Some actions will have initiatives listed, and others won’t. We’re continuing to add initiatives for all actions. If you would like a place to start, try Action 4.8. 
  • Explore 18 initiatives currently mapped for Expectation 4. See what counties they’re working in, how they’re centering racial equity and community voices, some examples of their impact, and more. 
  • Visit other Expectation areas and see the actions under development. 

Join Us in Mapping the Work

Learn more about the Action Map on our info page, and register for a short guided tour on May 10th at 3:00 p.m. After seeing the Action Map, we hope community leaders will be inspired to add their initiatives, and share it with others, so we can better understand what’s happening – and not happening – in North Carolina, and work together to ensure every child’s success.