Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation awards $30,000 to the “Rebuild Stronger” initiative

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation awards $30,000 to the “Rebuild Stronger” initiative
February 04
11:00 2021

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is pleased to announce a $30,000 grant to the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) for its “Rebuild Stronger” initiative, which aims to develop a new vision for a high-quality early care and education system in North Carolina that is equitable, sustainable, affordable and accessible.

NCECF strives to ensure each North Carolina child has a strong foundation for lifelong health, education and well-being by marshaling North Carolina’s great people, ideas and achievements to build a foundation of opportunity and success for every child by the end of third grade. Through the “Rebuild Stronger” initiative, NCECF is partnering with NC Child – an organization that works to advance public policies to ensure that every child in North Carolina can thrive, regardless of race, ethnicity, or place of birth – to convene and mobilize a diverse group of stakeholders to transform the system of early care and education.

In the short-term, NC Child will convene a coalition that is centered on individuals who are directly impacted by and engaged in North Carolina’s early childhood systems, with a goal of producing recommendations for the transformation of early care and education. NCECF and NC Child plan to develop messaging and communications around that plan with the input of parents, child care center directors, educators, family child care home providers, and those who provide informal care. NC Child will lead a longer-term campaign that will be driven by the coalition’s  recommendations.

ZSR’s grant funds will be used by NCECF to secure the services of Dr. Iheoma Iruka, a nationally renowned expert on the nexus of early childhood systems and racial equity, to serve as a thought partner to help design engagement strategies, the coalition structure and processes that center the voices of families and root all decision making in equity.

“We believe that an equitable, high quality, affordable, and accessible early care and education system is crucial for racial and economic justice for young children, their families, and the early care and education workforce,” said Muffy Grant, executive director at NC Early Childhood Foundation. “We aim to use this time, a time of significant disruption, to reimagine early care and education centered in the voices of families and those most impacted by the system.”

“Every child deserves a strong foundation to help them thrive and start kindergarten ready to learn,”said Shanda Sumpter, early childhood education campaign manager at NC Child. “North Carolina’s early childhood education programs are excellent, but we have a long way to go to make them accessible and affordable for every child, whatever their race, ethnicity, or family income.” 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for North Carolinians to rethink what equitable, accessible, high-quality early care and education looks like in our state,” said Maurice “Mo” Green, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “North Carolina’s child care system had challenges even before the pandemic, but now is facing an even more dire outlook, as many child care centers across the state struggle to make ends meet with low enrollment. ZSR is proud to support the ‘Rebuild Stronger’ initiative as North Carolinians collectively reimagine the future of early care and education with equity front and center.” 

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