The Pre-K Priority Hosts Community Conversation on Dec. 14 Highlighting the Economic Benefits of Pre-K for all Four-Year-Olds in Forsyth County

December 8, 2020

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (Dec. 8, 2020) – As Forsyth County grapples with the educational and economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Pre-K Priority is emphasizing the importance of expanded access to high-quality Pre-K in a Community Conversation featuring key voices from the business, education and childcare sectors. The event is Monday, Dec. 14 from 5 – 6 p.m. and will be held virtually via webinar with links from The Pre-K Priority website and its Facebook page.

“As our final Community Conversation for the year, we are excited to bring together an excellent slate of panelists from diverse backgrounds and economic aspects related to early childhood care and the education landscape,” said Bob Feikema, CEO of Family Services and the convener of The Pre-K Priority. “They will share perspectives on Pre-K and our current local and national economic situation as well as the integral role of high-quality Pre-K to create and sustain a healthy economy.”

The Pre-K Priority Community Conversation will feature four community panelists.

  • Calvin McRae, Vice President of Public Policy at Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. (formerly the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce), will share the importance of growing the local economy by creating affordable Pre-K opportunities for more families. McRae is an advocate for the best business environment as it relates to economic development, fostering a strong workforce, infrastructure needs, and work-ready programs.
  • Dr. James Etim, Professor of Education at Winston-Salem State University, will share how Pre-K impacts the middle grades progression and later outcomes for adults when they enter the workforce. Dr. Etim conducts research on teacher preparation, teaching English language arts in middle school settings, diverse learners, women writers of children and adolescent literature and gender issues in education.
  • Katura Jackson, Executive Director of Child Care Resource Center (CCRC), will offer perspective from the work they do matching local child care services with child care needs of families, as well as providing professional development opportunities to early childhood professionals. As CCRC serves Forsyth County and eight surrounding counties, Jackson has particular insight related to the current state of child care in our community and its economic impact.
  • Dr. Alice Etim, Professor of Management Information Systems at Winston-Salem State University, will share how the digital divide in education impacts economic mobility especially during COVID-19. Dr. Etim has done extensive research spanning Information and Communication Technology adoption, diffusion, use, and impact in business organizations, project teams and the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) populations.

Since the release of The Pre-K Priority’s Equity Report earlier this fall, the coalition has hosted a number of Community Conversations around the importance of high-quality Pre-K.

“Heading into 2021, our community must turn its attention to addressing the disparities in access to early childhood education that are so fundamental to success not just in the classroom but in work and in life,” said Feikema. “Investing in expanded access to high-quality Pre-K is proven to close achievement gaps for our K-12 students and ensure our community has a prepared workforce for the future.”

Feikema cites an action plan by The Economic Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy, that identified expanded access to high-quality Pre-K learning opportunities as the first of six critical steps to ensure students develop the skills sets necessary in today’s economy.

“If we are truly committed to a robust and vibrant community, we must ensure our children have access and opportunity to high-quality early learning experiences,” said Feikema. “It’s time for Forsyth County to start investing in Pre-K as other communities are doing across North Carolina. By bringing together local governments, businesses and community organizations, we can positively impact the future of our children by giving them the best start to their education journeys.”


The Pre-K Priority was formed in 2014 as a coalition of education, childcare and community leaders with the goal of providing every four-year-old in Forsyth County with the opportunity to attend a high-quality Pre-K program. Our studies and reports document that Pre-K providers in Forsyth County are prepared to increase the quantity and quality of their programs. Most importantly, surveys have found that 90 percent of parents with young children would enroll their children in affordable, accessible, high-quality Pre-K programs were they available. For a complete listing of The Pre-K reports, visit