Category: Education (page 1 of 2)

Affordable Teacher Housing – Dare County

The Challenge 

Recruiting and retaining teachers are difficult tasks for many school districts in North Carolina. Many offer salary supplements to recruit and retain employees, but others are going beyond that to provide affordable housing for teachers in their communities. Research indicates that teacher salaries do not keep pace with rising housing costs in many parts of North Carolina, leaving many teachers unable to afford housing in the community where they work. These conditions force them to live farther from work, resulting in increased commuting time and transportation costs, or to seek work in another community with better opportunities. In a Reach NC Voices statewide survey of public school teachers, the majority (60%) of teachers who responded indicated affordable housing is a barrier to teaching in their district. Almost half report paying more than the recommended 30 percent of their income on housing.

In Dare County, teachers and other public employees are often unable to afford housing on their incomes. “That’s one of the wealthiest counties in the state. Except for all the wealth is from out-of-state beach house owners. The teachers and firemen and the policemen have to live outside the area. They can’t afford the rents,” says Jim Blaine, president of the State Employees Credit Union. This challenge can lead to teacher turnover, which means that students are more likely to be taught by less experienced teachers and have diminished educational outcomes. These effects are particularly true for low income and minority students, who are disproportionately assigned to novice teachers, widening the already significant achievement gap in many communities.


The Solution

Since teacher pay in North Carolina is generally based on years of experience, many monetary incentives for teacher recruitment and retention are not particularly effective or sustainable. Therefore, other types of incentives, like affordable housing guarantees, can be a tool for school systems that struggle with turnover and/or local housing affordability. The State Employees Credit Union worked with community partners in several counties across North Carolina to provide funding for teacher housing in counties and towns with limited rental units and expensive housing costs. They provide no-interest loans that the community partners pay back through the rent earned. After the loans are paid back, community partners are able to use the funds for the advancement of community goals.

In Dare County, these loans are used to provide affordable teacher housing units in Kill Devil Hills and Cape Hatteras. There are currently two such complexes: Run Hill Ridge, a 24-unit complex in Kill Devil Hills (built in 2008) and Hatteras Teacher Housing, a 12-unit building in Buxton (built in 2011). These 2-bedroom, 2-bath units rent for $850 per month, prioritizing teachers and school leaders, but are also available to anyone employed by Dare County Schools (DCS), Dare County, or the state or federal government if the units are not filled. Additionally, DCS implemented a beginning teacher support plan, which guarantees not only affordable housing for the first four years of teaching, but also additional instructional mentoring and support to encourage professional development and retention.

Although not enough to establish causality, the opening of teacher housing complexes in Hertford and Dare Counties seems to have positively impacted teacher turnover rates.

The Players

This collaboration is funded by the State Employee’s Credit Union Foundation, partnering with the Dare Education Foundation. The complexes are funded with a no-interest loan from the SECU Foundation, which allows for their construction and other upfront costs. After the loan is repaid through rent collected over time, additional revenues will help the foundation support Dare County Schools. Both complexes are owned by Dare Education Foundation, allowing them to have a long-term investment to recruit and house new teachers.


The Promise

This program has been successful in recruiting more teachers to Dare County and reducing the amount of turnover experienced by Dare County Schools. There are factors that other communities may want to consider before implementing this program. One is the availability of permanent, affordable housing for teachers to rent or purchase in order to continue to use these sorts of complexes for recruitment. For example, Dare County is now enforcing a four-year time limit on this program’s leases. “The original purpose of the housing units was temporary housing for teachers…a gateway into finding other places,” Dare County Schools (DCS) Digital Communications Director Keith Parker said. But he said in some cases the teacher housing units, “have become more permanent scenarios. The original mission was as a recruiting tool.” This permanent transition to other housing will depend on local housing availability and affordability, which varies widely in North Carolina communities.

Transitioning Veterans to the Civilian Workforce – Craven County

The Challenge

North Carolina has the fourth-largest active duty military presence nationally at 778,000 and the eighth-largest veteran population at over 683,000. However, according to a recent study by Wallethub, North Carolina currently ranks 21st in the nation for “ability to provide a comfortable military retirement,” behind neighboring Virginia and South Carolina (which rank second and fifth respectively). The ranking is based on 27 metrics clustered into three categories: economic environment, quality of life, and access to health care. In economic environment, North Carolina ranks 31st. In North Carolina, 32,000 veterans are unemployed, and 48,000 have income below the poverty level, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Additionally, seven percent of veterans are homeless (which is 12 percent of the of the state’s adult homeless population).

Gainful employment via owning one’s own business also lags for veterans. Veteran-owned small businesses have 16% lower sales than those of the same size owned by nonveterans, and veterans have more difficulty accessing capital and social networks. Read more from Military Times. Veteran business owners reported lower credit scores on average, as well as a greater rate of credit denial, driven by insufficient credit history and frequent moves. Another of the potential drivers of this gap is that many veterans relocate somewhere other than their hometown after serving – where they may not have networks and have to build them from scratch. Therefore, business and networking skills are key to improving self-employment prospects for veterans transitioning into civilian life.


The Solution

Craven County is home to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, a base that provides aerial support and maintenance for the Marine Corps and employs thousands of active duty military members. Craven County has a significant number of veteran residents, at 16% of the total adult population, which necessitates that many local resources are designed to meet the needs of veterans. Given the importance of MCAS Cherry Point and large veteran population, the county implemented a program to help veterans make the switch from the military to civilian jobs. Craven Community College is recognized as a leader in helping veterans transition to the civilian workforce via their Veteran Transition and Preparatory Training Program (VTPT).

VTPT has two arms, including the Military Academic Skills Program, which opens up further employment and education opportunities by improving academic skills. The course focuses on reading, grammar, and mathematics skills. In the second program, Tools for Advanced Manufacturing, veterans learn how to transfer military skills and experience to civilian careers in the manufacturing sector. The Tools for Advanced Manufacturing for Veterans (TAMV) class teaches participants how to transfer their military skills and experience onto their resume in language recognized by manufacturing employers. Veterans receive training in both hard and soft skills, and upon completion receive important certifications they can use when applying for manufacturing jobs. Both programs’ classes meet every weekday for 8 hours over a three-week period and are open to military spouses. The goal of the program is to ease students’ transitions into civilian life and connect them with job opportunities in North Carolina.

Source: UNC-TV. Boots to Business seminar at MCAS Cherry Point

To address disparities in veteran self-employment, Craven Community College and MCAS Cherry Point also offer programs that teach business essentials. One example, Boots to Business, is a cooperative program that allows students to learn essential skills needed to start and run their own business. Also open to military dependents, this program is offered multiple times a year to meet the needs of transitioning service members and their families. Wanda Bennett, the seminar’s instructor, says that veterans are often successful in entrepreneurial ventures because they “have a skill set coming out of the military that many civilians don’t have… [including] discipline, training, integrity, clarity, and excellence.” She says this program allows veterans to direct these skills toward running their own businesses, helping them with the confidence they need to succeed with self-employment.


The Players

Craven Community College and MCAS Cherry Point are the key partners in these innovative preparation programs, focusing on developing the individual skills of veterans. On the employer side, North Carolina for Military Employment (NC4ME) is a comprehensive public-private partnership designed to make North Carolina the number one state for military employment. Established in 2015, NC4ME leverages existing workforce development resources and technology, including the Department of Commerce and Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, to implement an employer-centric strategy that:

  • Educates NC business leaders on the value of hiring a military workforce,
  • Shows small businesses and human resource professionals how to hire military personnel, and
  • Connects military talent to open jobs, education, and training opportunities in North Carolina.

NC4ME also serves as an umbrella for over 1,000 veteran-focused organizations in NC, assisting veterans with navigating resources while simultaneously assisting employers in hiring them.

Source: UNC-TV. Aerial training simulation at Craven Community College satellite campus on MCAS Cherry Point.


The Promise

Ray Staats, President of Craven Community College, says their focus on segments of the population that are unique to their community allowed the College to develop its veteran-focused programs. Although he acknowledges that some veteran students will move away once their service ends, his hope is that Craven County’s welcoming atmosphere and veteran-focused programming will encourage many to stay in the area, enhancing the local workforce and economy. Staats says that flexibility and a local focus will allow the College to continue serving this transitioning population.

Kimberly Williams of NC4ME says the state should keep transitioning service members in North Carolina because it is key to economic development in the state. She says veterans could fill important workforce gaps in North Carolina if they are able to market their skills to employers. Williams says despite some perceptions that service members are only trained for combat, “the reality is that [service members] are attorneys. They do logistics, statistics, accounting, food service, travel – the military is a business.” This makes their skills directly transferable to the civilian workforce, if they are connected with companies that need qualified employees. Through education, training, and an employer-focused network, Craven Community College, MCAS Cherry Point, and NC4ME are partnering to ensure that veterans are staying and thriving in North Carolina communities.

Pre-K Expansion in Forsyth County

Co-Author Hallee Haygood


Did you know… North Carolina ranks first in Pre-K quality but 41st in access to Pre-K? About 62,000 low-income children are eligible for free NC Pre-K while only about 47% of them are served.


The Challenge

Early childhood education is not just about reciting the alphabet, counting numbers, and recognizing shapes. It provides young children with opportunities to learn through play, practice decision-making skills, and interact daily with peers and adults in a safe learning environment. Building soft skills at an early age has been shown to improve future reading and math scores in both the third and the eighth grades. It has also been shown to boost future earning potential, especially among children in low-income communities. Beyond providing critical services to meet a child’s developmental needs, successful early childhood programs can result in fewer school dollars going to special education and remediation (Public Schools First NC).

Studies demonstrate the benefits of early childhood education, and many localities seek to improve outcomes by providing it to more children. Although North Carolina’s Pre-K programs are high quality, there is insufficient access across the state for qualified students. Only 43.7% of children ages three and four are enrolled in in the state’s Pre-K programs. Read more from The News & Observer. The high cost of Pre-K within the state presents a barrier, as one study found that the average cost is around $9,254 a year in North Carolina.


The Solution & Players

Leaders in Forsyth County convened a variety of organizations to assist in creating and funding Pre-K educational opportunities. By involving various organizations, Forsyth County created a network of investment to support children within the community and increased the accessibility of early education. Additionally, a report found that Forsyth County now has a higher average subsidy for Pre-K education than the state’s average.

Smart Start is a state-wide organization that exists within each county. The branch within Forsyth County has different contracts and funding sources that allowed for greater investment in Pre-K. One example is the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust creating a “Great Expectations Initiative,” which expanded funding for Smart Start in Forsyth County and provided funding for more schools. The Trust committed $30-40 million to improve access to early childhood education in the community. As one study found, when children attend early childhood education programs they show stronger academic skills, as well as social-emotional development in the long-run. Additionally, an initiative called Project Impact, sponsored by Kaplan, works to improve literacy within Forsyth County. The initiative funded the creation of a new curriculum called C4L, or Connect for Learning, which focuses on STEM learning.




The Promise

Funding from a variety of sources has been the key to success in Forsyth County. Not only are philanthropies and local agencies investing in Pre-K, but so are private firms. The North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services review of Early Childhood Action Plans indicates Forsyth County had an 88.8% success rate increasing the skills of children entering Pre-K, compared to the state average of 78.2%.

Adverse Childhood Experiences in Cumberland County

Co-Author Hallee Haygood


The Challenge

When children face extreme adversity at a young age, it impacts their well-being in the present and later on. It can create many social, physical, and psychological problems for children as they continue to age, as North Carolina Health News described. Most states define “adverse childhood experience” as neglect or abuse that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. Data about adverse childhood experiences in North Carolina are available from the United Health Foundation.

Read more about adverse childhood experiences (ACES) from Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, which offers support to interested community members who want to come together to build Community Child Abuse Prevention Plans. Cases of adverse childhood experience can lead to toxic stress and death. North Carolina has seen an increase in rates of children going into foster care after experiencing neglect or abuse. As such, Cumberland County felt that it was time to address these issues in a bold way.


The Solution

After the community endured the death of a child due to abuse, Cumberland County leaders decided the problem of adverse childhood experiences must be addressed. They were the first county in North Carolina to create a “Community Childhood Abuse Prevention Plan.” It focuses on promoting protective factors (like social and emotional competence, knowledge of parenting, and child development, resilience, connectedness, and concrete support) to foster community and family support that nurtures a child’s development. Read the plan adopted by the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners in 2017 at this link.

Research indicates that prevention plans at the local level are essential because the most change can occur within communities and families as personal investment increases. Additionally, such prevention plans bring different sectors together to address local issues. The CDC created a list of different approaches to improve quality of life for children and decrease abuse. As communities implement more prevention plans and strategies at the local level, more children are likely to avoid adverse experiences.


 The Players

Lead agencies in developing the Cumberland County plan included: Cumberland County Schools, Child Advocacy Center, Partnership for Children of Cumberland County, Cumberland County public health and social services officials, Fayetteville Police Department, and the local district attorney. The Cumberland plan incorporates research about protective factors, which are conditions in families and communities that increase the health and well-being of children and families. These attributes serve as buffers, helping parents find resources, support, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress. Research has shown that the protective factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect.

Prevent Child Abuse provides information about the risk factors that increase the likelihood of child abuse and neglect, which include:

  • Young parents may lack experience with children or be unprepared for the responsibility of raising a child.
  • Unrealistic expectations. A lack of knowledge about normal child development or behavior may result in frustration and, ultimately, abusive discipline.
  • Families struggling with poverty, unstable housing, divorce, or unemployment may be at greater risk.
  • Substance use. The effects of substance use, as well as time, energy, and money spent obtaining drugs or alcohol, significantly impair parents’ abilities to care for their children.
  • Intergenerational trauma. Parents’ own experiences of childhood trauma impact their relationships with their children.
  • Effective parenting is more difficult when parents lack a supportive partner, family, or community.

The Promise

For communities who seek to address adverse childhood experiences, two determinants can make all the difference: funding and networks. Funding from diverse sources allowed Cumberland County to create the Community Childhood Abuse Prevention Plan that engaged 22 local public and nonprofit agencies in identifying strategies to reduce adverse childhood experiences 90 percent by 2030. Further, the network enabled these agencies with various missions and goals to collaborate on a common agenda. They are stronger and more effective together than they could be acting independently.

Opioid Response Project Team Focus: Onslow County

Co- Author: Mary Parry

Sparked by the UNC Opioid Response Project, a local effort formed in Onslow County and conversations about launching a collaboration began. Before long, around 30 agencies and partners were on board, eager to build a community team focused on solutions. “Because of the Opioid Response Project grant, we were able to launch our Strategic Opioid Advanced Response Team (SOAR),” said Sophia Hayes, project coordinator with the Onslow County Health Department. “We’re now partnering with physicians, mental health specialists, religious groups, and others, working with a shared purpose. It’s exciting!”

The team’s initial goal was increasing education and awareness. They began by offering a survey to find out how much the community knew about drug problems in the county. They also distributed educational materials, offering local statistics and resources for treatment to help more people seek help when they need it. The outreach response was strong. “We received 400 survey responses and handed out materials to 2,000 people,” said Hayes.  “We’re also working on a public service announcement to help this information spread further.”

The team hosts and participates in community events to broaden awareness in the county. One event featured a speaker on the long-term effects of opiates. Provider trainings are also planned, educating the medical community on alternatives to subscribing opioids, policies surrounding opioids, and other emerging topics like the use of CBD oil. These trainings are intended to help patients, too. “There are a lot of worries around prescribing and treatment that we can help alleviate by better educating our community,” said Victoria Reyes, community relations officer with the Onslow County Health Department.

Team leaders point to the Opioid Response Project grant as instrumental in helping them reach people in a targeted way. Becoming more strategic on social media and offering local content specific to Onslow County helped the community better understand the opioid epidemic and the resources available to people in need of support.

The SOAR Team’s initial work in the community has been well-received, but stigma creates a barrier for residents who need help but fear judgment. To help remove this barrier, the team started a Naloxone Take Home Program, allowing residents to pick up the opioid overdose reversal medication at the pharmacy for no cost. “Our EMS also leave take-home kits after cases involving overdose, trying to remove the barrier of stigma,” said Hayes. “This helps more people access Naloxone, but it does skew our data since this Naloxone use is underreported.”

Moving into 2020, Onslow’s SOAR Team works on turning survey results into new opportunities for education and collaboration. With help from the Onslow County Manager, a crisis continuum group joined the team and partners from Carteret County connected as well. Community partners share stories that convey the impact of the SOAR Team’s work, which helps spread the word and build momentum for their efforts.

Because of their early success as part of the Opioid Response Project, the City of Jacksonville received a Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program grant (COAP) worth $900,000 over a 3-year period. “We’re starting to be able to look beyond the early stages of this work into next year, three years out, and into the future, which is very exciting,” said Hayes.

With continued funding in place, the SOAR Team hopes to provide peer support specialists in the community, who are people with lived experiences that offer valuable input to team leaders. They are also trusted messengers within the community, attending work groups and faith-based gatherings to broaden awareness. “This work is near and dear to their hearts and their impact is real,” said Reyes. “Funding for peer support specialists is needed so that we can provide resources like transportation. In a county like Onslow, where people are so spread out, a lot of travel is required to get to sober living and detox facilities.”

Providing equal access to treatment drives members of the SOAR Team. Coming together with this shared purpose, community leaders are thankful for the opportunity to do this work together. “The support we have received through the Opioid Response Project has been great, providing some structure and helping us uphold the collaboration so it can grow and reach further across our county,” said Reyes.

Learning and networking at forums through the Opioid Response Project has been extremely valuable to the learning and planning process, according to team leaders. “Even though we all live in different areas of the state, we’re all dealing with the same issue,” said Hayes. “Access to leaders in different counties has been both helpful and reassuring as we continue on this path, helping our community respond to the opioid epidemic.”

The team is excited to think about how far they have come because of their collaboration. “We have had tremendous attendance and participation by local leaders, which has been a terrific benefit to our team,” said Hayes. “It has made a tremendous difference in our progress. We look forward to continuing this important work.”

To learn more about the Opioid Response Project coordinated by the ncIMPACT Initiative, please visit:


Opioid Response Project Team Focus: Cumberland County

Co-Author: Mary Parry

The Cumberland-Fayetteville Opioid Response Team (C-FORT) emerged from a task force first organized by former Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robinson. The task force brought stakeholders together to begin to discuss strategies for tackling the local opioid epidemic. When the UNC School of Government launched the Opioid Response Project, team members were eager and excited to participate in an opportunity to continue their work and expand their impact using the Collective Impact model.

“The C-FORT team is a pretty motivated group with quite an action plan,” said Melissia Larson, C-FORT Project Manager. “The team is made up of 90-100 community leaders, 25-35 of which are actively involved, working to address needs in the community.”

Improving post-overdose response is one of the focuses of the team. It was obvious to community leaders that more needed to be done, but there was not enough staff in place to collect all of the necessary data to take action. Because of the team’s work, a pocket guide is now being released to help patients who refuse transport. The guide, distributed by first responders, contains information to help patients understand where they can access services in the community.

Community education is another important component of C-FORT’s work. Committee members implemented a survey to better understand attitudes and awareness about the opioid epidemic in Cumberland County. The survey will gauge the community’s understanding of the availability and purpose of Naloxone, the medication used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose. The team will wrap up survey collection in January 2020, and results will inform the content and strategies behind an upcoming community education campaign.

“The roadblock initially keeping us back from collecting information and launching projects was funding,” said Larson. “We had an action plan and strategies that were great, but we needed the money.” C-FORT developed their action plan as part of the Opioid Response Project with support from the UNC School of Government.

As a result of their promising work, the C-FORT team was recently awarded a federal grant, offering the county $900,000 over a three-year period. The team will start receiving funding in early 2020 and will begin implementing its action plan, including a media campaign and hiring staff to help with the post-overdose response in the community.

“Because of our participation with the UNC Opioid Response Project, we have been able to really pull this team together and employ a community coordinator,” said Larson. “That has been critical to our success and will really help propel us going forward.”

The C-FORT team describes their involvement with the Opioid Response Project as educational and rewarding. After identifying early strategies, teams were encouraged to set goals and objectives, then move on to key performance indicators, helping them realize their goals. “The School of Government had a game plan, helping each team walk away with an action plan,” said Larson. “It’s exciting now to see those plans start coming together.”

Bringing together 10 teams from across North Carolina has made it easier for team members to share information and participate in networking that might not otherwise be possible. These discussions are helping local leaders save time and avoid reinventing the wheel as they work quickly to tackle similar issues in their communities.

“Thanks to the UNC Opioid Response Project, the C-FORT team now has a strong action plan that takes into consideration all of the different facets of the opioid problem,” said Larson. “We have learned about the importance of including workforce development in our action plan. We know that joblessness is a problem linked with opioid addiction, and now we have an opportunity to include that in our action plan.”

As the new year begins, the C-FORT team is excited to be hiring three full-time staff. “Being selected for funding was a big win for us,” said Larson. “Now, we’re looking forward to the many small wins along the way that will pave the way toward achievement of our goals.”

The C-FORT team is working hard to become the creative and recovery-ready community they see as necessary to tackle the opioid epidemic. Because of the team’s involvement in the Opioid Response Project, they are already seeing that start to happen. “One of our members with Methodist University recently reported the launch of recovery meetings on campus beginning in January 2020,” said Larson. “It’s exciting that our members can get the energy and inspiration they need to feel empowered to start a conversation with their chain of command, helping to launch projects that will become an important part of our community’s success.”

To learn more about the Opioid Response Project coordinated by the ncIMPACT Initiative, please visit:

Accountable Care Communities Offer An Opportunity to Address Healthcare Disparities at the Systems Level

In a previous blog post, which you can find here, ncIMPACT shared information around NCCARE 360, an interdisciplinary referral tool being implemented in the state of North Carolina’s medical care systems. As we continue to research impacts of the health of a community, we find it increasingly important to look at the way data around how changes become integrated with existing cultural norms and daily lives of community members in North Carolina. NCCARE 360 is part of an effort to implement a model of Accountable Care Communities (ACCs).


ACCs aim to address health at the community level through addressing the social drivers of health and looks at health on a systems level to better coordinate healthcare with a wide variety of stakeholders within a community. This coordination includes involving non-traditional partners in health initiatives, such as faith communities and academic researchers. ACCs have an underlying value of authentic community engagement. In the context of the ACC model, it is not enough to go into communities and give out information. Stakeholders must work alongside communities to create a power dynamic that gives community members agency and self-determination. Under the ACC model, the goal is to elevate the voices of community members who are most impacted by health disparities. For example, specific race groups are more likely to experience disparities within population health–those voices need to be amplified within this model.



Health Inequities by Race

In fact, the data suggests that many health initiatives have historically neglected or taken advantage of specific race populations, such as the Native American and African American communities (see Black-White Disparities in Health Care Report, released by the American Medical Association[1]). Racial disparities in health begin even at the stage of conception. African American babies are more than twice as likely to die during childbirth than white or Hispanic babies in North Carolina. While white babies die at a rate of 5.4% in North Carolina (comparable to the Hispanic rate of 5.5%), Black babies die at a rate of 12.4% (see figure below from NCDHHS).



Maternal mortality rates are alarming in general, but when analyzed by race, it is evident that Black mothers have a totally different experience during pregnancy and childbirth than their racial counterparts. In 2013, in the state of North Carolina, the maternal mortality rates for Black and white women was almost the same, with the white racial category making a large jump up in rates and the Black racial category briefly falling. However, since then, the numbers have since diverged once more. Today, a Black woman in North Carolina is 3x as likely to die from giving birth than a white woman. From 1999-2013, Black women accounted for 49% of the deaths due to childbirth in the state of North Carolina, while African Americans make up 22% of the state’s population (

While working with the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust on their targeted health strategies, our interviews with experts repeatedly brought up the importance of cultural competency at the systems level to address disparity. For example, one anonymous interviewee we spoke with mentions struggles with healthcare perceptions for older African American men:

“He grew up in a time where he knew studies were being done on Black people. Telling him he needs to go to the doctor brings up distrust for him. Entering into those large facilities, he’s not inclined to do that. He needs a provider that looks like him and be able to come to a place that feels safe.”


These disparities are alarming and to begin addressing these health inequalities, research and reports indicate that strategically culturally appropriate care, community capacity building, and homegrown community leader involvement will all need to be present as a start to making the state’s health system more culturally appropriate. These non-traditional partnerships implemented in Accountable Care Communities will require a breaking down of walls for everyone involved–silos will need to be removed for an integrated community care system.

For more guidance on implementing the ACC model, please see the following guide, provided by Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and Duke Endowment, visit







Does Prekindergarten Push against the Curve of Community Change?

What happens when a room full of county commissioners, school board members, and early childhood practitioners spend the day diving deep into the data on preschool education with the state’s leading child development researchers? They start digging into how prekindergarten programs for four year olds push against the curve of community change.

On September 25, 2017, the Thinking Big for Small People group gathered in Chapel Hill for a day of training and reflection. The broader context for this gathering was the North Carolina General Assembly’s decision to increase funding for the state’s standard pre-K program delivered in each county, known as “NC Pre-K,” in its budget for the next two years. Program attendees spanned a continuum of familiarity with pre-K. Some came from communities with a great deal of curiosity, but no consensus about whether they would expand pre-K. Other communities had already set a goal for granting universal access to pre-K.

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How Is the NC Pre-K Program Delivered in Each County?

NC Pre-K is a state-funded pre-kindergarten program administered by the Division of Child Development and Early Education within the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The program serves eligible four-year-olds via classroom-based education in a variety of public and private settings governed by NC Child Care Rules. The state generally limits eligibility for NC Pre-K to children from families whose gross income is at or below 75 percent of North Carolina’s median income. In addition, up to 20 percent of the program can consist of children from families above the income ceiling who exhibit certain risk factors, such as limited English proficiency or a developmental disability. A later blog post will discuss the NC Pre-K program in more detail.

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What You Told Us in the ncIMPACT Planning Survey

We launched ncIMPACT in 2017 to help public officials in North Carolina navigate critical policy challenges across a wide range of topics, including health, education, economic development, criminal justice, public finance, and the environment. As we planned this new initiative, we wanted to hear from practitioners and other citizens about the most vexing policy issues in their community and in the state as a whole, and what we could do to help. As such, in January 2017 we drafted an online survey and distributed it with the assistance of various peer associations and a targeted Twitter campaign. Over the course of two months, we received 154 responses to our survey. Please read on for an analysis of our results.

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