WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (April 9, 2019) — Forsyth County community leaders from the private, public, and non-profit sectors have collaborated to launch the Pre-K Priority, whose mission is to advocate for high-quality early education for every four-year-old in Forsyth County.
“The Pre-K Priority is about informing the community, voters, taxpayers, policymakers, teachers, and parents about the benefits of quality Pre-K,” said Bob Feikema, Family Services President and CEO. “Our children’s education is everyone’s concern. High-quality Pre-K programs provide an enriching environment that stimulates brain development, promotes learning, and fosters the social-emotional stability that is a prerequisite for success in school.”
The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust’s Great Expectations grant to Family Services, in the amount of $847,250, will fund a public awareness and engagement campaign and feasibility study during 2019. Family Services will convene the Pre-K Priority's Steering Committee and has established five local work groups associated with early education expertise.
“Research shows that every dollar spent on early childhood initiatives provides more than eight dollars in benefits back to society,” said Joe Crocker, director of the Local Impact in Forsyth County program at the Trust. “However, nearly half of the children entering kindergarten in Forsyth County are at risk of falling behind their peers in reading. The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust is committed to ensuring all of our community’s children have access to quality early childhood education that lays the foundation for success in kindergarten and beyond.”
According to a recently-completed benchmark research study among Forsyth County registered voters, 84 percent of voters support "giving our children a strong start through quality early education programs" with 54% indicating "we should be doing more."
Studies of high-quality programs like the North Carolina Pre-K Program have found positive outcomes, including improved math and reading scores. The gains made by children enrolled in high-quality early education programs translate into improved outcomes as adults in terms of post-secondary educational attainment, increased income, home ownership, improved health status, and less contact with the criminal justice system.
About Family Services: For nearly 115 years, Family Services has provided high quality programs and services that help families resolve crises, protect victims of family violence, and prepare preschoolers to be ready to succeed in school. We are reaching beyond the 10,000 families we serve each year to pursue two major goals that are essential for the well-being of our entire community:
1. Making quality early childhood development programs available to every child in Forsyth County, and
2. Ensuring that all children and families are free from the threat of family violence. To do this ,we are building an unprecedented network of local organizations and action-minded leaders who share our commitment to community-wide change. These partnerships are generating innovative ways to help every child and family in Forsyth County reach their full potential.
About Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust: The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 and is now one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. Our mission is to improve the health and quality of life of financially-disadvantaged residents in North Carolina. The Health Improvement in North Carolina program area supports community-wide health solutions across the state. The Local Impact in the Forsyth County program area fosters equitable and sustainable solutions to improve the quality of life in Forsyth County. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. serves as sole trustee.