Durham Tech students assemble Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits

by Administrator 19. January 2016 14:54

Last week, a large group of students from Durham Technical Community College (DTCC) assembled 560 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits in support of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative, a collaboration between the Partnership and Durham Public Schools. This is the third year in a row that DTCC students have built these Kits for rising kindergartners in Durham as part of their MLK Day of Service. We’re so thankful for their continued dedication to this project! 


The Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits provide school readiness materials to rising kindergartners in Durham and are a key part of the TTK Initiative. Each one contains items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. The Kits these volunteers built are being distributed to rising kindergartners at our some of our TTK Transition Team elementary schools, including: Eastway, E.K. Powe, Eno Valley, Forest View, Lakewood, and Y.E. Smith. 

12 Days of Giving: Day 11

by Administrator 17. December 2015 08:46

On Day 11, you can give back by learning more about what you can do to help children be prepared for school. School readiness is everybody’s business. It is a shared responsibility among many individuals and institutions, and there are many ways that you can help support children and families as they prepare to enter school! 

Entering kindergarten is one of the most significant events that a young child experiences. It sets the tone for his or her entire educational experience and lays the foundation for future success in school and life. The goal of the Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative, a collaboration between Durham Public Schools and the Partnership, is for every child in Durham to enter kindergarten feeling excited, ready to learn and supported by their school, family and community.

Throughout the year, we ask volunteers to build Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits containing school readiness materials that we distribute to rising kindergartners. Volunteers also help at our TTK Transition Team events at elementary schools, offering children and families a chance to ask questions, get to know their teachers, and become familiar with the school. Last year, we held our inaugural Kindergarten Registration Week, and we distributed nearly 2,000 registration packets to rising kindergartners in Durham through volunteers at child care centers, elementary schools, local businesses and grocery stores, hospitals, and public agencies. 

This year’s Kindergarten Registration Week will take place March 19-25, and we need your help! We are calling on the whole community to get involved and make a commitment to Durham’s future. Think about what you can do within your own family, your place of business, and your own neighborhood to help get more children registered and in school. Volunteer to help us spread the word during Kindergarten Registration Week (click here for more information). Make the first day of school for all children a priority. 

School readiness is everybody’s business, and we need your help in carrying out the critical effort of making sure Durham’s children are ready for school! Please get involved, and make your gift to the Partnership today!

DPS Magnet School Fair on Nov. 7

by Administrator 2. November 2015 11:50

Durham Public Schools will hold a Magnet School Fair this Saturday, Nov. 7th from 10am – 1pm at the Southern School of Energy and Sustainability (800 Clayton Road).

The fair gives elementary, middle and high school students and parents an opportunity to talk with school staff and explore magnet theme offerings at Durham Public Schools. There are 10 elementary magnet school options. Each school has either a specialized program, nontraditional instructional method, or operates on a year-round calendar. These are great options for students, including rising kindergarteners, and this is a wonderful opportunity to learn more!

Registering for magnet schools is a different process than other school registration. All applications must be submitted online during the magnet application window, which is January 11-29, 2016. However, beginning this year, parents must first register at their neighborhood school to optain their child's power school number. More information about the registration process can be found here and here.

Click here for more information and a flyer you can share to help spread the word!

Duke students build Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits for National Make a Difference Day

by Administrator 29. October 2015 13:55

This past Saturday, October 24th, was Make a Difference Day, a national effort to engage millions of volunteers for the nation’s largest day of community service. Undergraduate students at Duke University spent the day giving back to their community by building 300 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits for rising kindergartners in Durham! 


The Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits provide school readiness materials and are a key part of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative. The kits are an interactive tool that help children and parents prepare for the transition to kindergarten together. Each one contains bilingual items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. The Kits built by the students at Duke were then delivered to 4-year-olds at Durham Head Start.

This is the 2nd time that the Duke Community Service Center has sponsored this activity as their Make a Difference Day project, and we look forward to working with our enthusiastic volunteers again soon! 

Attendance Awareness Month starts today

by Administrator 1. September 2015 13:40

September is Attendance Awareness Month, a nationwide recognition of the connection between school attendance and academic achievement. Started in 2013 by Attendance Works, the goal of this month is to mobilize schools and communities  to promote the value of good attendance and to address the largely hidden crisis of chronic absenteeism. To kick off the month, Attendance Works has released a new report highlighting how chronic absenteeism is a significant cause of the achievement gap starting as early as kindergarten. 

Chronic absenteeism refers to a child missing 10 percent of school days for any reason – excused and unexcused, including in-school suspensions. Research shows that this is the point when students start to fall behind academically because they have missed too many school days.

According to the report, absenteeism rates among kindergartners, particularly low-income and minority children, are nearly as high as those among high school freshmen. An estimated 1 in 10 kindergartners misses at least 18 days of school, or nearly a month of class, per year. Chronic absence in kindergarten can leave third-graders unable to read proficiently, sixth-graders struggling with coursework, and high school students off track for graduation. The missed days in a student’s earliest years are a significant precursor to reduced levels of school achievement and increased risk of dropping out of school.

When young children are absent, it’s most often due to health. Asthma and tooth decay are among the leading causes of absences, along with other mental or physical health problems suffered by children and their families. By raising awareness of chronic absenteeism and monitoring how many days each student misses school for any reason— excused, unexcused or suspensions— schools have the best chance at being able to intervene early.

“Poor attendance is among our first and best warning signs that a student has missed the on-ramp to school success and is headed off track for graduation,” the Attendance Works report says. “We must address attendance and its connection to public health early in a child’s life.”

To learn more about Attendance Awareness Month and to download resources to use in the classroom, community and at home, please click here.

For additional research about kindergarten attendance, please click here.

Kick-off to Kindergarten events celebrate the first day of school

by Administrator 28. August 2015 11:27

This week, we had the pleasure of welcoming young learners to their first day of kindergarten at 5 elementary schools in Durham! The “Kick-off to Kindergarten” celebration is part of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative, a collaboration with Durham Public Schools, and is the culmination of a series of events at our Transition Team schools designed to make kindergarten an exciting and welcoming place for new students and families.


At E.K. Powe Elementary, Forest View Elementary, Glenn Elementary, Lakewood Elementary, and Y.E. Smith Elementary, groups of volunteers greeted the incoming kindergartners and families with cheers, high-fives, bubbles, stickers and smiling faces. Entering kindergarten is one of the most significant milestones in a young child’s life, and it’s something that deserves to be celebrated! Making the first day of school an exciting and welcoming one makes a huge difference in a child's entire academic career. 


Thanks to the work of the TTK Initiative throughout-out the spring and summer, many of the children and families we saw at the Kick-off to Kindergarten event had already been to their new schools, met the teachers and school staff, and even made friends with their classmates. Across all of our Transition Team schools, 48% of the estimated rising classes attended at least one transition event before the first day of school. At one school, 95% of their incoming class participated in a TTK event! 


We’re grateful to our wonderful volunteers – from community groups and individuals, to corporate groups, to members of the Board of Education – who joined us this week and helped make the first day of school a lot less scary and a lot more fun! 


We hope that even more children and families in Durham will be able to have this experience when starting kindergarten next year! For more information about the TTK Initiative and to find out how you can be involved, please visit www.durhamgoestokindergarten.com.

Rising Kindergartners enjoy Popsicles on the Playground

by Administrator 11. August 2015 12:33

The first day of school is almost here, and Durham's Transition to Kindergarten Initiative is gearing up for an exciting few weeks! Staff, transition teams and volunteers have been working hard to make sure children in Durham are ready for school. A variety of transition events have taken place throughout Durham during the spring and summer, including Popsicles on the Playground events at all of our Transition Team schools.

At Eastway’s event last week, children enjoyed frozen treats on a summer day while playing with some of their future classmates, and parents had a chance to meet other families with rising kindergartners and to receive information and resources. 


Similar events have also taken place at Lakewood Elementary and are coming up soon at Glenn Elementary (Aug. 11), Y.E. Smith Elementary (Aug. 12), E.K. Powe Elementary (Aug. 20), and Forest View Elementary (Aug. 22). For a full list of upcoming events, please click here.


Across all of our Transition Team schools, we have reached 26 – 54% of the rising kindergarten class at each school, with a total of 226 children and families attending at least one transition event so far… with 4 more events to go! Best of all, 100% of families surveyed at events said that they felt more confident about ways to prepare their child for kindergarten!

In a few weeks, we are hosting Kick Off to Kindergarten events at all 5 Transition Team schools. We will be cheering on new students and parents as they arrive for their first day of school, and it’s sure to be a fun-filled, exciting morning for everyone! We are still in need of volunteers at a couple of schools, so please come join the fun and help children feel excited and welcome in their new school! 

Countdown to Kindergarten this Friday!

by Administrator 3. August 2015 11:33

Durham Public Schools’ annual Countdown to Kindergarten at the Museum of Life and Science (433 W Murray Ave.) is this Friday, August 7th from 6-8pm. This free event for all rising kindergarteners and their families provides important information and resources and helps to promote a smooth start to the school year!

Families will have a chance to tour the exhibits, ride a school bus and learn about school bus safety, learn about school lunch programs, meet UNC-TV characters, complete lunch, bus and other applications, check out the DPS before- and after-school programs, get school calendars, and much more!

The Partnership will be at the event representing the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, providing school readiness tips and parent resources and providing free books to all children who attend. 


We are also gathering school supplies for 2 bookbags that will be donated to 2 young students at the event! If you would like to help provide supplies, please click here to sign up to purchase an item.

To download a bilingual flyer for Countdown to Kindergarten, please click here

TTK Initiative featured in Harvard Family Research Project

by Administrator 2. June 2015 16:01

Recently, Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative was featured in the Harvard Family Research Project! The TTK Initiative, a collaborative project of the Partnership and Durham Public Schools, prepares children, families and schools for a successful entrance into kindergarten from formal pre-school programs or home settings. We are honored to be recognized by such a prestigious organization!

TTK is featured as a resource for other organizations who are hoping to build a Successful Family Engagement System:

“What we know is that a system of family engagement can only be possible through partnerships-between federal and state agencies, across public and private sectors, and among families, schools, and communities. Effective partnerships can result in innovative strategies to reach more families, create meaningful conversations, and influence family engagement practices.”

To read the full article, please click here.

Thanks to the hard work of our staff and community partners, the TTK Initiative has been able to reach a large number of rising kindergartners and their families in Durham. Here are a few exciting outcomes of our work so far this year:

  • Hundreds of volunteers from Durham Tech, Fidelity, Windsor Circle, Watts Street Baptist Church, and our Early Childhood Bus Tours have assembled a total of 1,705 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits that have been distributed to children by schools and community organizations
  • We expanded to coordinate Transition Teams in 6 elementary schools, each of which hosts a series of transition events before the start of the school year. The 6 schools combined will serve approximately 630 kindergartners this year, and up to this point, 32% of rising kindergarteners have attended at least one transition event at each school.
  • We partnered with 13 community sites and engaged 60 volunteers in more than 140 hours of service during Kindergarten Registration Week. We delivered a total of nearly 2,000 registration packets to rising kindergartners in Durham through volunteers, child care centers, elementary schools, and partner agencies in the community. 

There are more TTK events coming up in July and August at all 6 Transition Team schools. Check back soon for information about how to volunteer for these fun events, and visit www.durhamgoestokindergarten.com for a list of all upcoming events.

Fidelity volunteers build Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits

by Administrator 14. May 2015 15:37

Last week, we had the pleasure of hosting a group of hard-working volunteers from Fidelity as part of Fidelity Cares Day. More than 200 Fidelity employees in North Carolina worked with area nonprofits that day as part of a firm-wide initiative that involved more than 2,000 Fidelity colleagues across the country!

We had a great group of 15 volunteers who built 250 Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits! These kits provide school readiness materials to rising kindergartners in Durham and are a key part of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) InitiativeEach one contains items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. The kits these volunteers built were then distributed to Eastway Elementary School, one of our Transition Team schools, as well as to Merrick Moore Elementary and NC Pre-K students at private child care centers. 


We had a great time during Fidelity Cares Day and want to extend a huge thanks to Fidelity for including us and volunteering to help young children in Durham! 

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