In the News


September 29, 2020


Funds will assist in helping to meet the immediate needs of Guilford County families


Greensboro, NC … In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Get Ready Guilford Initiative (GRGI) has provided $650,000 in emergency relief funds to 11 GRGI programs and to the United Way of Greater Greensboro and the United Way of Greater High Point. The United Ways will receive a combined $400,000 of the funds to administer to local programs not affiliated with GRGI.

GRGI is working to build a system that identifies the needs of Guilford County’s youngest children and their families and responds with effective programs and services at the right points in development, prenatally through age 8. The Initiative was established through a partnership between The Duke Endowment and Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready), which is a collaborative effort to develop a connected, innovative system of care for children and their families in Guilford County.

“Ready Ready thanks The Duke Endowment for its working partnership,” says Charrise Hart, Ready Ready’s CEO. “Their generous support will allow GRGI programs to meet the community’s greatest needs during this pandemic by providing medical supplies, educational materials, technology, and other resources. This is sure to have a lasting positive impact on the healthy development of children and their families in Guilford County.”

“The Duke Endowment greatly values our partnership with Ready for School, Ready for Life and all the community partners working to improve the well-being of children and families in Guilford County,” says Meka Sales, Director, Special Initiatives for The Duke Endowment. “It’s too soon to fully understand the lasting effects of this pandemic, but we know these agencies can utilize this assistance now to meet ongoing needs.”

GRGI agencies serve more than 20,000 children annually from prenatal to age 8 through a collection of programs housed at local nonprofit human service organizations, educational centers, county government locations, and local universities. These programs serve families through home visitation, health and parenting education, early childhood education, mental health/behavioral health interventions, and crisis assistance. Hart identifies some of the challenges these programs face in serving families during this pandemic as families’ lack of access to technology and/or broadband, adjustments to virtual visits, feelings of social isolation, and competing demands on caregivers’ time.

The 11 GRGI agencies receiving the funds are: Guilford Child Development’s Early Head Start Program; Family Service of the Piedmont’s Healthy Start Program; UNC Greensboro Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships’ Bringing Out the Best Program; Parents as Teachers Guilford County; YWCA Greensboro’s Teen Parent Mentor Program; YWCA High Point’s Adolescent Parenting Program; and five programs under Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health: Care Management for At-Risk Children, Care Management for High-Risk Pregnancy, Guilford Family Connects, WIC, and Adopt-A-Mom.

Maria Layne-Stevens, CEO of Guilford Child Development, expressed her agency’s gratitude for the COVID-19 emergency funding and explained the impact it will have on the families they serve. “Guilford Child Development greatly appreciates Ready for School, Ready for Life and The Duke Endowment for their active roles in serving the needs of our county’s most vulnerable 0-2 population,” she says. “Covid-19 has exacerbated housing and other related insecurities. The funds provided will ensure Early Head Start enrolled families don’t have to face eviction or loss of basic utilities needed to care for their infant or toddler because of a job loss. By removing these impending hardships, our county’s youngest children will be able to continue their engagement in education and support services that prepare them for school and life success.”


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About Ready for School, Ready for Life and the Get Ready Guilford Initiative

Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready) serves as a backbone organization charged with building a connected, innovative early childhood system within Guilford County, North Carolina. Research shows 80% of brain growth occurs by age 3, therefore Ready Ready works with more than 110 agencies and organizations to develop and implement a community-wide vision to improve outcomes for children and their families while reducing persistent disparities in the five areas of planned and well-timed pregnancies; healthy births; on-track development for infants, toddlers and preschoolers; school readiness at kindergarten entry; and success at the end of third grade.

In 2018, the Get Ready Guilford Initiative (GRGI) was launched in partnership with The Duke Endowment to pilot and grow an initiative to improve outcomes for children.


About The Duke Endowment

Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $4 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.


“Creating a Strong Future for Guilford County” by Susan Shore Schwartz, Ed Kitchen, and Charrise Hart. Click the link to see the article as it appeared in the News & Record on Sunday, April 19th, in the Ideas section (text below).


Creating a Strong Future for Guilford County

These are uncertain times in our world, our country and Guilford County. We are all learning new routines and dealing with new challenges in our daily lives, even as we continue to plan for the future.

Our community had planned numerous local activities to mark the national “Week of the Young Child” (April 13-17) and celebrate the 37,000 children age 5 and under in Guilford County. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of events weren’t possible. Now, there is an even greater need to raise awareness of the important role children play in creating a strong future for Guilford County and the responsibility every member of our community has in their development.

In the 2018-19 academic year, only 40% of children entering kindergarten were proficient or above proficient in language and literacy development as measured by reading and comprehension assessments. Research shows that when children enter school on track, their chances of succeeding not just in school but in life increase dramatically. They’re more likely to read on grade level by the end of third grade, graduate from high school, have higher-paying jobs and contribute more in taxes, as well as live longer, healthier lives.

Fortunately, a comprehensive effort is already well underway in Guilford County to tackle the fundamental issues limiting the potential of our children and our community. More than a hundred local organizations and nonprofits began working together in 2014 under the banner Ready for School, Ready for Life. Together, partners are creating an innovative system of care that connects families and the youngest children in our community with a wide range of support services.

Ready for School, Ready for Life is working on multiple fronts to achieve better outcomes, such as implementing a countywide early literacy plan, improving transitions from pre-school to kindergarten and making high-quality, affordable child care available to all families.

We’re in this for the long term, and we’re measuring our effectiveness in key areas such as planned and well-timed pregnancies; healthy births; on-track development for infants; toddlers and preschoolers; school readiness at kindergarten; and the ability of every child to read on grade level in the third grade.

Enhanced services are becoming more and more available to our youngest children and their parents through their obstetricians and pediatricians, and by Nurse Family Partnership, Guilford Family Connects and HealthySteps. Our work has already generated national attention and support, including meaningful, multi-year commitments of time, resources and funding by The Duke Endowment and Blue Meridian Partners. We anticipate more than $100 million will be invested over 10 years to plan, design and implement a system that will seamlessly connect families with the services they want and need to support healthy development of their newborns, infants, toddlers and preschoolers.

In addition to these processes and advocacy initiatives, we have also embraced a national movement called The Basics. Launched in Boston by a team of researchers, The Basics promote five fun, free and easy ways to spur development during a child’s first three years, when 80% of brain growth takes place. These are things that all adults can do as they interact with children in their everyday lives.

We have seen tremendous response to The Basics over the past year, including support from the business community, faith leaders, health care professionals and a wide range of local government agencies.

To learn more, please visit and These websites provide detailed information, short videos and tips on how to make a meaningful difference in the lives of all children in our community. Our goal is to ensure success in life, and we all have a role to play.