Early Investments. A Lifetime of Results.

NCECF’s First 2000 Days Campaign has:

  • Built bipartisan support for investments in children’s early learning by positioning early child development as an issue that impacts all North Carolinians.
  • Engaged unexpected voices as messengers.
  • Recruited community influencers that support early learning.

By allowing broad ownership of the initiative across North Carolina (think Got Milk?), we have:

  • Changed the narrative about the urgency and importance of brain development in the early years of life.
  • Recruited new unexpected voices as champions, including business and faith leaders, and crime prevention professionals.
  • Partnered with numerous organizations across the state.

The First 2000 Days initiative is an open source campaign that allows communities across North Carolina to download presentations and supporting materials to start a campaign. Our message is accessible and has become part of the vernacular when talking about early education issues.


  • NC voter polls in 2014 and 2016 have shown gains in North Carolinians’ understanding of the importance of early learning and in support of more public investments in young children.
  • Organizations participating in the First 2000 Days engagement initiative expanded their public engagement skills, built new partnerships and relationships, strengthened alliances, expanded their bases of support, and integrated the message into their organizational communications strategies.
  • A wide range of community leaders became unexpected voices for why early learning matters. Judges, district attorneys, sheriffs, business and faith leaders, economic development advocates and community college administrators became First 2000 Days Champions to educate and engage their networks. These respected champions also authored editorials to reach out across their communities.

Promote Understanding

By creating community teams to build momentum for the campaign at the local level, more than 10,000 North Carolinians have heard the First 2000 Days message through executive briefings, faith summits and community conversations.

Spearhead Collaboration

The First 2000 Days initiative brought together organizations and individuals for common purpose, including many that had not collaborated in the past. Building new and lasting relationships and partnerships has provided ongoing opportunities for local collaboration.

Advance Policy

By building public will for early learning investments through the First 2000 Days initiative, local governments in NC are recognizing the importance of investing now in its future workforce. At least a half dozen counties are supplementing state and federal dollars for early learning programs and others are considering how they can invest early in children’s success.

Advancing Work

Due to the success of the initiative in North Carolina and the numerous requests from across the country to replicate the work, we offer lifetime licenses to states and entities outside of North Carolina. The state of Wisconsin owns a license, as does the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS).


Between 2012 and 2014, at least 10,000 North Carolinians heard the First 2000 Days message through over 300 presentations and events across the state.


NCECF obtains First 2000 Days trademark and begins licensing the First 2000 Days toolkit outside of NC.

March 2015

An independent evaluator of the First 2000 Days initiative found that local Smart Start partnerships gained public engagement skills, built new partnerships, expanded their based of support and integrated the message into their organizational communications. Smart Starts stated that NCECF support was highlighted as a major strength of the campaign.


Nine hundred faith leaders attend regional and local Faith Summits in Burlington, Fayetteville, Greenville, Rutherfordton, Eden and Wilmington. Twelve Business Briefings across the state are held to engage 500 business leaders in becoming First 2000 Days champions.

May 2014

Kevin Frye, Sheriff of Avery County and then President of the NC Sheriff’s Association, writes all 100 sheriffs, urging them to become First 2000 Days Champions.

April 2014

NCECF awards 11 small grants to local Smart Starts in North Carolina to host community summits to engage faith, law enforcement and business leaders in the First 2000 Days campaign.


NCECF selects 25 counties across NC to provide two years of strategic assistance, coaching and support a learning community about First 2000 Days engagement campaigns.


NCECF develops downloadable First 2000 Days engagement toolkit including presentations, educational and engagement materials, much of it in English and Spanish.


First 2,000 Days campaign is launched to build bipartisan support for investments in children’s early learning by positioning early childhood as an issue that impacts all North Carolinians, engage unexpected voices as messengers and create community influencers that support early learning.

What People are Saying About the First 2000 Days

Pastor Jerry Lewis from Grace for All Church in Marion, NC said the Faith Summit was “truly eye-opening” for him. Pastor Lewis recently entitled his sermon series the First 2000 Days to introduce the new childcare facility addition to his congregation.

Early childhood blogger Paul Nyhan called it “a model for early learning in the age of social media” and Education Week featured it in their Early Years blog.

“Communication, networking with peers, information sharing between partnerships regarding their experiences and ideas and providing opportunities for local Champions to gain statewide exposure is priceless.”

Dwight Morris, Executive Director, Partnership for Children of Johnston County

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