Ready for School, Ready for Life receives Pritzker Children’s Initiative Grant

(Greensboro, N.C., January 27, 2023) – Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) has received a $50,000 grant from Pritzker Children’s Initiative. The grant will create a plan to share Ready Ready’s core approaches, strategies, and lessons learned with other North Carolina communities and states developing a comprehensive prenatal-to-three system.

“While Ready Ready is building a system of care for young children and their families in Guilford County, we have always planned to share our unique work and impact across North Carolina. It’s a population-level change movement that started in Guilford County but won’t end here,” Ready Ready CEO Charrise Hart said. “We are so grateful that Pritzker Children’s Initiative will enable more communities to create a comprehensive and high-quality prenatal-to-three system.”

Research shows that 80 percent of a child’s brain grows during their first three years of life, with a million neural connections forming every second. Creating a strong brain foundation in the first 2,000 days of a child’s life — from birth to kindergarten — is critical to emotional, physical, and cognitive well-being.

“Every child deserves a great start in life, but not every child starts from the same place,” Hart said. “Ready Ready wants every child born in Guilford County 2023 and beyond to have the resources their families need to thrive.”

By partnering with families through the critical early stages of childhood, Ready Ready and its community partners seek to understand and address the systemic challenges that impact families in our community, supporting young children’s early cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development.

These resources supplement the care provided by medical practitioners, address gaps in healthy childhood environments, and add support beyond the love and attention of primary caregivers.

Media contact: Director of Communications Stephanie Skordas —

Staff profile: Sanaa Sharrieff

“It felt like a support system at a time when I had no local support system,” said Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) Parent Liaison Sanaa Sharrieff about the Guilford Parent Leader Network – her first connection to the organization. “When I moved to High Point, I didn’t know anyone. Learning about volunteer efforts, parent support efforts, and agencies in the community helped me realize the concept of parent voice. And it also developed into a career pathway.”

As a Parent Liaison, Sharrieff creates and sustains bridges between parent leader voices in the GPLN and community support. She joined Ready Ready as a staff member in 2022 after several years in leadership roles in the GPLN and a seat on the national Parent Leader Network steering committee.

“Now I connect with the parent leaders in the GPLN from a different perspective, in a way that said ‘Well, hey, there’s more for you here. Let me bring you along into this space of empowerment.’ Parents already have power, but now I can help show them how they can use their power even more from an organizational perspective,” Sharrieff said.

Photo of Sanaa Sharrief and family membersMentoring parents into leadership is an aspect of her role at Ready Ready that really resonates with Sharrieff. She is a Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) facilitator and peer parent trainer. She has guided parent leaders through COFI Phase I (self, family & team building) and COFI Phase II (community outreach and action) phases. The COFI way develops leaders and helps parents build organizations that make a real difference in the community, according to the organization.

Sharrieff is also the parent of eight-year-old twins, a 19-year-old, and a 22-year-old. “My older children have left the nest and are creating lives of their own,” Sharrieff said. “My twins are these robust, rambunctious, highly energetic, very intelligent children who keep me on my toes.”

In between her parent leadership role at work, and parenting at home, Sharrieff has a variety of other interests and hobbies. “As Queen Sanaa, I’m a singer, a spoken word artist, and a rap artist with music on all streaming platforms. I’m also a fashion designer with a clothing line,” she said.

Sharrieff has also ventured into podcasting. “Because I was part of the national Parent Leadership Network, I became a co-host of season two of The New Neighborhood Podcast from the Center for the Study of Social Policy,” she said. Sharrieff enjoyed the experience so much that she started her own podcast.

“We discuss topics like the psychology of abuse, the Five Love Languages, or the eight different types of love,” Sharrieff said.

Partner Spotlight: Thriving at Three

Thriving at Three, a program of the Center for New North Carolinians, assures that Latino/Hispanic immigrant children in Greensboro have a positive and strong foundation from birth to age three.

“We want to assure that these families have the help and support they need to help their children develop healthy and positively,” said Thriving at Three Coordinator Grecia Navarro. “We offer home visits, case management, parent education, and group meetings, and we can also refer families to other programs and organizations as needed.”

Three children playing in a daycare settingThriving at Three works with about 40 families each year, assessing their children’s developmental status with the Ages & Stages Questionnaire. Some parents receive the Crianza con Cariño Curriculum to increase their knowledge of child development and parent-child interaction.

“We recognize that if we provide developmental, emotional, and social support early in a child’s life, it will create a long impact to help the child do well in school and in life,” Navarro said.

Thriving at Three is part of Ready for School, Ready for Life’s Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Cohort II. Navarro and another team member began the work with Ready Ready in fall 2022.

“CQI has definitely helped me visualize the changes and improvements I’m able to make for our program to ensure that we are providing the best quality and work for our participating families. Having the time to reflect and evaluate our program helps us recognize our strengths and weaknesses,” Navarro said.

Navarro said another takeaway from the CQI process is examining how Thriving at Three collects data and what kind of data it needs in order to grow and improve. “It’s definitely very impactful and beneficial.”