We are excited to announce that 11 local nonprofit organizations committed to advancing equity in the early childhood sector have received multi-year grant funding as a result of a collaboration between the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. The partnership was formed to support community-based organizations and coalitions led by and serving Black, Latino, American Indian, and other people of color that are working to center the experience of children and families to tackle a range of early childhood issues.

Though diverse in terms of geography, size, and populations served, the organizations funded as part of this effort were selected largely for what they have in common.

“While each grantee is unique, they are unified around a passion for advancing equity through elevating community voice and leveraging the power of advocacy for systemic improvement,” said Shenell Thompson, Senior Program Officer for Local Impact in Forsyth County at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. “Through our Great Expectations initiative and our statewide work, the Trust is committed to helping children and families thrive. This collaboration helps to advance that work and focuses on creating lasting, equitable change in early childhood systems.”

The grantee selection is the culmination of a six-month process aimed at supporting organizations that serve communities that have been negatively impacted by inequities in early childhood systems. There was a concerted effort to engage nonprofits that have not been included in grantmaking in the past.

“Making this opportunity accessible to as many organizations as possible was a priority,” said Rob Thompson, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation’s Director, Early Childhood. “Recognizing that seeking grants is time-intensive and potentially intimidating, we wanted to center the experience of applicants in the design of this process. We know there’s room to grow; however, we’re excited about the progress made in lessening the burden on applicants and in reaching new organizations.”

A third-party evaluator is currently reviewing the Request for Proposal and selection process – with a particular focus on equity – to determine areas of improvement for future grant programs.

Each organization will receive $300,000 of grant funding over three years and will be part of a cohort that meets regularly to share learnings from the field, build relationships with each other, and participate in technical assistance opportunities supported by the funders. This is expected to include policy and advocacy trainings, research, communications support, fund development assistance, racial equity trainings, and more.

In addition to the 11 organizations selected for this effort, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is supporting three networks of family child care providers with grant funding as identified through the application process.* Family child care is a critical, yet under-supported, component of the state’s child care workforce. These networks will promote sustainability and growth of local family child care providers, improve the quality of care among providers, and advocate for a more supportive policy environment.

The organizations supported as part of this collaboration include:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Grantees

  • Charlotte Bilingual Preschool (CltBP) strives to make Mecklenburg County a place where dual-language learners have the support they need to thrive. To achieve this vision, CltBP is working on two complementary system-level approaches, including establishing a pipeline of early educators from the Latino community and developing an advocacy agenda to promote policies that support dual-language learners.

  • El Centro Hispano is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening community, building bridges, and advocating for equity and inclusion of Hispanics/Latinos in the Triangle area. El Centro will engage parents to identify the top issues affecting them related to early childhood, train parents on early education policies and advocacy skills, and collect and share stories.
  • Empowering Parents in Community (EPiC) works to dismantle systemic racial inequities in education through collective organizing and engagement of historically marginalized parents and communities. EPiC has implemented a successful model for African American parent engagement in schools across Durham and seeks to bring this model to early care and education settings.

  • Equity Before Birth (EBB) works to support the health and safety of Black birthing people and their children in the Triangle region through supplemental income, increased access to services, and essential baby needs. EBB has developed deep relationships with a growing network of parents, is an active participant in advocacy work for paid family leave, and seeks to expand its capacity to mobilize parents to advocate for the supports they need.

  • Guilford Child Development (GCD) provides multiple services for young children and their families in Guilford, Rockingham, and Randolph counties. This includes Head Start and Early Head Start, Nurse-Family Partnership, and child care resource and referral among others. Recognizing that early childhood policies have often been created with good intentions but with little input from those receiving services, GCD seeks to create an Early Childhood Advocacy Team composed of parents from across their programs and service areas in order to develop skills and leadership in service of key early childhood issues.

  • Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition (ISLA) serves a core community of more than 300 Latino children and families from Alamance, Chatham, Durham, Guilford, Johnston, Orange, and Wake counties. ISLA has a parent advocacy program, Padres Con Voz, that works with parents to employ advocacy strategies to address system barriers in the education system. With support from this funding opportunity, ISLA will cultivate Parents Con Voz cohorts focused exclusively on early care and education.

  • Peletah* is a faith-based organization in New Bern serving several counties in eastern North Carolina. Peletah operates a pre-k program and is working to develop a network to support family and faith-based child care homes to address the need for additional child care in the community.

  • PODER Emma* is a cooperative network of family-based child care in the Emma neighborhood of Buncombe County. PODER Emma provides shared services and professional development for providers and serves as a coordinating hub for the community. PODER Emma will expand this network and engage in local and state advocacy to support its members.

  • Superlative Academy* is a nonprofit providing support to four family child care networks in Mecklenburg County. This group of networks are well-established and provide professional development and business support to members. Superlative will deepen its advocacy on issues related to family child care, specifically reimbursement equity.

                                                                  * Family child care network also receiving grant funding

Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Grantees

  • Association of Mexicans in North Carolina (AMEXCAN) is a Latino-led and serving organization based in Eastern North Carolina that promotes prosperity for Mexican and Latino communities through network building, leadership development, engagement, and public education. AMEXCAN proposes connecting more families to East Coast Migrant Head Start programs, which provide a variety of early childhood services to ensure children of migrant and seasonal farm workers are prepared for success in school. AMEXCAN also plans to use its community connections to provide feedback to regional and statewide early childhood improvement efforts.

  • Bertie County Hive House is a community organization aiming to strengthen families and communities by providing access to information, resources, program services, and support for parents, grandparents, children, and youth. This grant will be used to continue youth programming and engage families to inform regional- and state-level policy and early childhood system changes.

  • FD Building Foundations or Foundation Builders Academy is a child care center in the Healthy Places NC community of Edgecombe County. Funding for this grant takes a multi-step approach to community-driven planning including gathering community input and creation of key messages for various audiences and creation of a social media campaign to address systemic early childhood education inequities.

  • Robeson County Partnership for Children proposes collecting and aggregating data on child care worker wages and benefits in Robeson County. The organization will use storytelling, data, and connections with statewide early childhood organizations to promote better pay and benefits for caregivers.

  • Kidz Dreamz Klub provides child development programs, afterschool activities, and community events for school-aged children and their families. Funding will expand programming and help the organization more deeply engage parents and connect families with stakeholders and decision makers.
To learn more about our organizations, visit bcbsncfoundation.org and kbr.org