In 2013, the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) made a commitment to diversity and equity by implementing a Diversity Statement and Action Plan. These commitments elevated diversity as an organizational value and devoted NCECF to identifying and removing systemic barriers that result in inequities in children’s outcomes.

Through the Pathways to Grade Level Reading initiative, NCECF committed to using a racial equity lens in 2018 to prioritize strategies that specifically work to reduce structural barriers to opportunity and well-being for children of color. The Pathways commitment also gives special consideration to the wisdom and innovation of people of color to develop responses that are lasting and reach all children.

Pathways continues to operationalize its grounding in racial equity in 2019-20 through the formation and facilitation of an Early Childhood Data Advisory Council and data workgroups that are using a racial equity lens to intentionally center the needs and experiences of children of color as NC improves early childhood data collection, analysis and use.

In 2020, NCECF strives to build on its promise for diversity by incorporating an equity policy that will focus explicitly, but not exclusively, on racial equity.

NCECF’s Commitment to Equity

The NC Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) is committed to building a foundation of opportunity and success for every child by the end of third grade. To make this vision a reality, we seek to identify and remove systemic barriers and replace them with pathways to opportunity.

Race has been a predictive factor in the life outcomes of children throughout our nation’s history and remains so today. Structural racism – implicit and explicit bias embedded in our systems, policies and practices – creates barriers to opportunity. These barriers produce inequities in outcomes for children of color on measures that matter – such as birthweight, social-emotional health, family economic security, housing stability, school discipline, early literacy, and more.

Structural racism limits outcomes not just for children of color, but for every North Carolinian.  Persistent disparities in young children’s health and educational attainment have cost our state billions of dollars in lost economic output and these losses are compounded every year we choose not to properly address these inequities. When every child is supported to reach his or her potential, all of us benefit.

For these reasons, NCECF’s equity policy focuses explicitly, but not exclusively, on racial equity. We hold up racial equity as a core value, acknowledging that confronting racism is an essential part of realizing our vision that each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for lifelong health, well-being, and education.

Our Beliefs

  • Every child has the right to equitable opportunities and resources in order to realize his or her full potential.
  • Widening the path to opportunity begins by ensuring that every North Carolina child, no matter his or her life circumstances, is supported by a premier birth-to-age-eight-system. 
  • Inequities are created and maintained both intentionally and inadvertently through policies and practices that construct barriers to opportunity. Disparities in children’s health, education, and well-being outcomes can only be mitigated by intentionally focusing on root causes of inequities and on systems-level change.
  • Using an explicit but not exclusive racial equity lens will both strengthen our own organizational policies, practices, and results, and also improve the systems that impact North Carolina’s young children and their families.

Equity Policy

The NC Early Childhood Foundation recognizes and honors diversity in race, ethnicity, culture, class, age, abilities, gender and sexual identity, political affiliation and places where people live. We seek to reflect this diversity in all aspects of our work, including the composition of our board, staff, committees, workgroups, and volunteers.

NCECF explicitly acknowledges the impact of systemic racism and seeks to prioritize strategies, policies, and practices designed to both disrupt racism and alleviate its effects on North Carolina’s young children and families. NCECF is committed to ensuring that racial equity is applied in every aspect of our work and that it is woven throughout our organizational framework.

  • We commit to collaboration among staff and the Board of Directors to keep racial equity at the center of our work to promote understanding, spearhead collaboration, and advance policies. 
  • We are dedicated to shaping and sustaining an inclusive and equitable work culture.  
  • We value the voices of people of color to make our work better and more responsive to the state we serve. 
  • We provide our staff and Board with opportunities for open, honest dialogue about the effects of systemic racism as well as opportunities for ongoing education in racial equity best practices, such as cultural competency and awareness of privilege and bias.
  • We work to build meaningful relationships with groups representing diverse populations to support Board and staff recruitment efforts and to create powerful partnerships to impact outcomes for young children and their families.

By creating a shared vocabulary related to racial equity, we hope to be explicit about desired outcomes and create an open culture of social transformation through collaborative learning. 

  • Diversity: A collection of both differences and similarities in a group whether based on characteristics such as race, gender, age, or range of other identities or experiences. 
  • Inclusion: Authentically and intentionally engaging those from diverse backgrounds in processes and decision-making. 
  • Racial Equity: An analytical framework that acknowledges the impact of structural racism and proactively develops strategies and systems aimed at mitigating its effects on society. If racial equity is achieved, one’s racial identity no longer serves as a predictor of one’s life outcomes. 

(Definitions adapted from Z. Smith Reynolds: