MDC partners with the Kate B. Reynold Charitable Trust as the activating agency for the Trust’s Great Expectations initiative. Great Expectations is a community-wide initiative that aims to ensure that children, especially the most economically vulnerable, in Forsyth County, N.C., reach developmentally appropriate milestones in the first five years, enter kindergarten ready to learn, and leave set for success in school and in life.
In July 2015, the Trust publicly launched Great Expectations and awarded its first set of grants. Since then, the Trust and MDC have been listening and learning from families and providers and developing strategies that build on what we’ve learned.
These listening and learning efforts have included:
- Forsyth Family Voices, a new community engagement initiative that trained service providers to interview over 600 parents and caregivers (largely low-income and of color) about what families need to help their children succeed and the skills and energy that they have to offer. This effort stressed outreach into the Latino community, which is traditionally under-counted and overlooked in the County.
- The Early Childhood Service System Analysis, conducted in partnership with Forsyth Futures, involved in-depth interviews of all local early childhood programs and created a comprehensive map of services that impact early childhood development. This analysis has allowed the Trust and the broader community to understand systems gaps and opportunities for alignment.
- A Family, Friend and Neighbor Care Study surveyed over 1,200 parents and over 300 caregivers to learn more about informal child care arrangements in Forsyth County, because only 34% of young children in the County are enrolled in licensed and regulated care.
Building on locally gained knowledge and research in the field, MDC supports the Trust in advancing critical projects towards a stronger and more equitable early childhood system.
- Facilitation of a collaborative design process with system leaders towards a strong screening and referral system, so that parents can be well connected to the range of supports that children need.
- Shaping and managing a learning network of local organizations working to strengthen their parent engagement efforts, in partnership with Nolo Consulting. MDC is also exploring potential next-stage training for parents in how to be stronger advocates for system-level change.
- Developing a pilot initiative that tests ways to reach parents and children in the informal care network
- Ongoing efforts to deepen program and system alignment, including the advancement of Forsyth Connects (modeled after Family Connects) and universal Pre-K.
MDC also supports the Trust in shaping grantmaking strategy and ongoing research into emerging best practices and innovation.