The Partnership wins 2014 GSK IMPACT Award!

by Administrator 18. November 2014 16:13

We are thrilled to announce that we are a recipient of the 2014 GSK IMPACT Award! We are one of just nine Triangle non-profits to be awarded this incredible honor and will receive $40,000 in recognition of our achievements in building a healthier community. 

We were honored for our Innovative, Measured, Partnered, Accountable, Collaborative, and Transformative work, particularly highlighted through our Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, the Durham Touchpoints Collaborative and Durham Early Head Start.

Much of what influences our health happens outside the doctor’s office – in our communities. Community factors such as safety, access to healthy foods and recreational spaces, and the support of families and social networks undeniably contribute to our health. The GSK IMPACT Awards recognize nonprofit organizations with sustainable programs that address these critical community factors.

“Today’s winners show us what it means and what it takes to build a healthier Triangle region,” said Katie Loovis, Director, US Community Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement, GSK.

In the Research Triangle Park region, the GSK IMPACT Awards are presented in partnership with Triangle Community Foundation. “We are so proud to be able to support these vital nonprofits in our community,” said Lori O’Keefe, President & CEO, Triangle Community Foundation. “We are confident that the GSK IMPACT Awards will strengthen their work, and benefit our entire community for years to come.”

To view the full list of winners and read the full press release from GSK, please click here.

Durham Public Schools Magnet School Fair this Saturday

by Administrator 5. November 2014 15:21

Durham Public Schools will hold a Magnet School Fair this Saturday, Nov. 8th 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 very different process than other school registration. All applications must be submitted online during the magnet application window, which is January 12-30, 2015. The application will become available online at 12am on January 12th. 

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

Kick Off to Kindergarten at Lakewood Elementary

by Administrator 26. August 2014 15:51

Imagine you’re 5 years old and on your way to your first day of kindergarten. Maybe you’re feeling excited about starting school, or maybe you’re feeling a little nervous about what the day is going to be like, and feeling shy and scared, and worrying about making friends. Now imagine that you arrive at school with your parents and see a crowd of people cheering for you, welcoming you to your new school and inviting you to join in the fun and blow bubbles, take pictures, and meet your classmates.

     

That is exactly what happened this morning at Lakewood Elementary when a crowd of smiling people cheered on parents and children arriving for their first day of school as part of the Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative! Volunteers from the Partnership, Durham Public Schools, Duke’s Office of Durham & Regional Affairs, and Duke University Retiree Outreach gathered in front of Lakewood Elementary to make sure that every child starting kindergarten today had a fun and welcoming experience on their first day of school.

     

We watched child after child go from clutching their parents’ hands to grinning and high-fiving volunteers. After arriving to a chorus of “welcome to kindergarten,” and “we’re so happy you’re here,” one mother asked her daughter if she was still nervous. She received an enthusiastic “no!” and it was abundantly clear to everyone just how much impact the TTK Initiative can have for these young learners. 

     

We will be welcoming children to school at Forest View Elementary this Friday, and it is our hope that even more children and families in Durham will 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 or contact Wren Davisson (wren@dpfc.net, 919-403-6960 ext. 224).

Rising Kindergartners enjoy Popsicles on the Playground

by Administrator 21. August 2014 12:49

It's hard to believe that the first day of school is almost here! It's been a busy month for the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative as 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, and last week, we collaborated with our friends at East Durham Children's Initiative for a Popsicles on the Playground event for rising kindergartners at Y.E. Smith Elementary.

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. 

   
   


At Y.E. Smith Elementary, 33 rising kindergartners have attended at least one of the transition events held throughout the spring and summer. Including our other Transition Team schools – E.K. Powe, Forest View and Lakewood Elementary – we’ve reached up to 48% of the rising kindergarten class at each school, and through our TTK Mini Grants, an estimated 500 additional families participated in transition activities at 16 child care centers and schools. Best of all, 100% of families surveyed at events said that they felt more confident about ways to prepare their child for kindergarten!

Next week, several schools will hold Kick Off to Kindergarten events where we'll be cheering on new students and parents as they arrive for their first day of school. There will be plenty of excitement, smiles and tears (from both children and parents!), so please consider joining the fun and volunteering to help children get excited about the year ahead and feel welcome in their new school! 

School Readiness Summit stresses importance of preparing children for success in school and life

by Administrator 31. July 2014 15:20

On July 21, 2014, Durham’s Partnership for Children and Durham Public Schools presented the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action, sponsored in part by PNC BankNearly 150 community members – from school teachers and administrators, to elected officials, to business leaders, to volunteers – came together to learn more about the importance of a child’s transition to kindergarten and the collaborative effort of preparing children for success in school.

At the Summit, with the help of featured guest Ken Smythe-Leistico, a national consultant and expert on transition to kindergarten from the University of Pittsburgh, attendees learned how to blend strategies that tie parent engagement, child development, welcoming schools, and community support into a successful transition for all children in our city.

The Summit began with a presentation about why transition is so important, in which he explained how entering kindergarten sets the tone for a child’s educational experience for many years to come and lays the foundation for future success in school. He then asked the audience to dig deeper by examining community partnerships and sharing examples and stories from the incredibly successful Ready Freddy: Pathways to Kindergarten Success program that he developed at the University of Pittsburgh. The event wrapped up with action planning at each table, forming relationships and sparking ideas about transition strategies that can be implemented in our city.

If you weren’t able to attend the Summit, the presentations and a full video recording are available here.

During the Summit, many people asked about what is already happening here in Durham – and because of the work of the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative (TTK), we can happily report that it’s a lot! TTK is a collaborative effort between the Partnership and DPS. Sponsored in part by the Morgan Creek Foundation and Wells Fargo, the initiative helps prepare children, families and schools for a successful entrance into kindergarten from formal pre-school programs or home settings.

This past year has seen the implementation of Transition Teams at four DPS schools; distribution of Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits with school readiness resources through agencies across Durham; mini-grants awarded to 16 child care centers and public schools to support transition events;  the development of a Transition to Kindergarten mascot – Ready Eddy – and a website for information and resources; and teacher and community workshops, such as the Summit!

We have seen huge success from the targeted, community-based activities of the TTK Initiative this year, and we know that this work is making an impact. Transition Team events in our four pilot schools reached up to 48% of the incoming kindergarten class at each school, and 100% of families surveyed at events said that they felt more confident about ways to prepare their child for kindergarten.

But we still have a lot of work ahead of us. School readiness is everybody’s business, and we need your help in carrying out the critical effort of making sure our children are ready for school!

For more information about the TTK Initiative and to find out how you can get involved, please visit the TTK website and contact the Partnership’s TTK Program Coordinator Wren Davisson at wren@dpfc.net or 919-403-6960 ext. 224.

RSVPs due today for the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action

by Administrator 7. July 2014 10:40

RSVPs for the School Readiness Summit are due today! Don't miss your chance to join this important conversation and help us improve school readiness for all children in Durham.

The transition to kindergarten is one of the most significant events that a young child experiences, and it lays the foundation for future success in school and life. A smooth transition to kindergarten is a shared responsibility among many individuals and institutions including children, families, teachers, schools and the community. 

At the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action, we will explore how all sectors of the community can contribute to improving school readiness in Durham. This special event features Ken Smythe-Leistico,a national leading expert on kindergarten transition and founder of the Ready Freddy Pathways to Kindergarten Success Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Together, we will learn how to blend strategies that tie parent engagement, child development, welcoming schools, and community support into a successful transition for all children in Durham. With Ken's guidance through interactive presentations and neighborhood-based action planning, you will leave with an understanding of your role in this collaborative effort and what you can do to help close the achievement gap.

Monday, July 21st
8:30am - 12:30 pm
The Durham Convention Center 

Eventbrite - School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action

The School Readiness Summit is presented by Durham's Partnership for Children and Durham Public Schools and is sponsored in part by PNC Bank.

Join us at the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action

by Administrator 23. May 2014 12:53

The transition to kindergarten is one of the most significant events that a young child experiences, and it lays the foundation for future success in school and life. A smooth transition to kindergarten is a shared responsibility among many individuals and institutions including children, families, teachers, schools and the community. 

Please join us at the School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action, to learn how all sectors of the community can contribute to improving school readiness in Durham. This special event features Ken Smythe-Leistico,a national leading expert on kindergarten transition and founder of the Ready Freddy Pathways to Kindergarten Success Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Together, we will learn how to blend strategies that tie parent engagement, child development, welcoming schools, and community support into a successful transition for all children in Durham. With Ken's guidance through interactive presentations and neighborhood-based action planning, you will leave with an understanding of your role in this collaborative effort and what you can do to help close the achievement gap.

Monday, July 21st
8:30am - 12:30 pm
The Durham Convention Center 

Eventbrite - School Readiness Summit: Awareness, Advocacy and Action

The School Readiness Summit is presented by Durham's Partnership for Children and Durham Public Schools and is sponsored in part by PNC Bank. 

Please indicate on the registration form if you are interested in earning Continuing Education Units (CEU's) for this event and you will be contacted within one week. The cost of CEU's for the first 50 registrants will be provided by our sponsors at Discount School Supply and Lakeshore Learning.

Early Childhood Bus Tour focuses on school readiness in Durham

by Administrator 19. May 2014 15:49

Last week, the Partnership hosted community leaders and volunteers for another Early Childhood Bus Tour. This event, sponsored by Mechanics and Farmers Bank, is a way for us to invite participants to learn more about our work throughout Durham and view the community through the lens of early childhood. 

Nearly 25 people joined us on Wednesday, May 14th as we traveled to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Primary Colors Child Care Center, and Lakewood Elementary. We kicked off the event by asking attendees to build Blast-Off to Kindergarten Kits, which is one of many volunteer opportunities here at the Partnership. These kits are a key part of the Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, and we delivered the kits built by our guests during the tour. After introductions and kit-building, attendees heard from Queron Smith, Senior Vice President/City Executive of Mechanics and Farmers Bank, about their commitment to the needs of Durham’s young children and community. Smith’s daughter was also in attendance, and she informed us she was “getting ready for kindergarten” and got the tour off to a great start!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first stop on the tour was St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where attendees saw an extraordinary community-based program, LEAP, that showcases how the Partnership’s Early Childhood Faith Initiative and the community impact school readiness. The faith community has an important role to play in the development of young children, and our Faith Initiative was born out of a desire to raise awareness of the importance of early childhood issues and the availability of resources. 

The Latino Educational Achievement Partnership (LEAP) pre-k program, is a collaboration of St. Luke’s, St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church, and Iglesia El Buen Pastor. What began as one volunteer providing English-as-a-Second-Language tutoring to adults has developed into a center that serves 24 children in its pre-k classrooms and provides tutoring to 20 school-aged children. It is a testament to the power of collaboration and the dedication of faith community volunteers.

 

The next stop on the tour was Primary Colors Child Care Center, a 5-star center that serves children funded through the NC Pre-K program. NC Pre-K Coordinator Jena Carter discussed markers of high quality early care and education – including learning environment materials, teacher education, and assessment tools – which was then showcased as participants had a chance to tour two NC Pre-K classrooms and see some enthusiastic young learners in action! The group also saw children learning through play in the outdoor learning environment, and Primary Colors is currently working with the NC State Natural Learning Initiative to make their outdoor learning environment even more dynamic and effective.

    

Our final stop was Lakewood Elementary, home to one of our Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative’s Transition Teams. The transition teams are comprised of teachers, parents and school administrators, all with the common goal of wanting to make kindergarten an exciting and welcoming place for new students and families in their community. Tour participants heard from Wren Davisson, TTK Program Coordinator at the Partnership, as well as La' Kesha Roberts, Principal of Lakewood Elementary. After learning more about the TTK Initiative and the significance of a smooth transition to kindergarten, attendees toured a kindergarten classroom and saw firsthand the huge difference between pre-k and kindergarten.

   

All participants left the bus tour with a deeper understanding of the scope of the Partnership’s work, as well as the need for community-wide commitment and efforts to ensure that every child in Durham enters school healthy and ready to succeed. As we emphasized that morning, school readiness is everybody’s business, and we need all sectors of the community working toward a common goal of building children for success.  

One way you can join this work is to participate in the School Readiness Summit on July 21st. You can also get involved by volunteering, signing up for our email list for news and advocacy alerts, subscribing to this blog, following us on facebook, and joining us on a bus tour! Our next tour is scheduled for September 16th, so please contact Krissy Dunn if you are interested in attending.

The Partnership announces TTK mini-grant recipients

by Administrator 28. April 2014 11:15

We are pleased to announce that we have awarded Transition to Kindergarten mini-grants to 16 child care sites and elementary schools through our collaborative Transition to Kindergarten (TTK) Initiative. The grant amounts total $5,000 to support early educators, elementary schools and child care sites in designing and implementing transition events for their specific student and parent populations. This is the third year the Partnership has offered mini-grants for TTK projects. Funds for these mini-grants were made available through gifts from Wells Fargo and the Morgan Creek Foundation. 

The TTK Initiative is a collaborative project of the Partnership and Durham Public Schools that prepares children, families and schools for a successful entrance into kindergarten from formal pre-school programs or home settings. Positive links between school and home and increased parent involvement are both critical factors of long-term school success. This year’s mini-grants include activities such as summer transition camps, student portfolios, field trips to kindergarten classrooms, and kindergarten parent nights.

 “We know that prepared children and families are more successful at facing the enormous transition of entering school,” said Laura Benson, Executive Director of the Partnership. “Rising kindergartners and their families will be prepared, ready, and engaged if they know what to expect, and school administrators and teachers can prepare and respond to needs with more individual focus if they are given the opportunity to welcome incoming children and families before the first day.”

Mini-grant recipients include:
Bethesda Elementary
Children’s Campus at Southpoint
Early Explorers Playschool
Easley Elementary
Eastway Elementary
Fayetteville Street Elementary
Greater Outreach Services
Holt Elementary
Kiddie Kollege
Lakewood Avenue Preschool
Oak Grove Elementary
Operation Breakthrough Oxford Manor
Paradise Escapades
Spring Valley Elementary
Tutor Time
White Rock Child Development Center

 “The mini-grants allow for a targeted approach, with activities and information tailored for children and their families at each school,” said Benson. “As these projects unfold in the community, we can directly address the needs of transitioning young learners and promote school readiness throughout Durham.”

In addition to the mini-grants, rising kindergartners and their families benefit from other TTK activities such as Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits, a School Readiness Summit on July 21st, and the pilot program of Transition Teams at Forest View Elementary, Lakewood Elementary and Y.E. Smith Elementary. 

The Transition Teams, comprised of teachers, parents and school administrators, have implemented a series of events for rising kindergartners and their families, including upcoming activities on April 29th (Forest View Elementary), May 1st (Y.E. Smith Elementary) and May 8th (Lakewood Elementary). Attendees at these “Kindergarten, Here I Come!” events will have an opportunity to meet future classmates, participate in parent-child activities, and interact with kindergarten teachers. More information about the TTK Initiative, mini-grants, and all upcoming events can be found at www.durhamgoestokindergarten.com.

WOYC: volunteers making a difference for young children

by Administrator 9. April 2014 15:06

In addition to being Week of the Young Child, this week is also National Volunteer Appreciation Week! Our volunteers are making a difference that lasts a lifetime, and it is with their help that we’re able to reach so many young children and families in Durham. We could not do what we do without our volunteers, so it makes perfect sense for these celebrations to go hand in hand!

Here’s a peek at just some of the ways that volunteers are helping during Week of the Young Child:

  • Volunteers engaged the community at events like the Children’s Festival at Northgate Mall and the Pinwheels for Prevention Family Fun Day at Wheels Fun Park.
  • Volunteers are providing the essential building blocks for early literacy and language development through our Readers as Leaders program. Our readers visit classrooms in child care centers in Durham each week, using the power of their friendship to build a love of reading and enhancing the necessary language, cognitive, and early reading development required for continued school success.

  • Volunteers helped at the NC Pre-K “Blitz” Open Application Day. Along with Partnership staff and other collaborative partners, they processed walk-in applications for the NC Pre-K 2014-15 school year.

  • Volunteers are building Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits, a key component of our Transition to Kindergarten Initiative. The Kits provide school readiness materials designed to prepare children and families for the transition from home to kindergarten, and each one contains items that promote early literacy, enhance emotional and fine motor development, and prompt creativity. We will distribute 1,600 Kits to at-risk children this year, all of which will be assembled by volunteers.

  • Volunteers are maintaining the safety and beauty of the outdoor learning environment at Bryson’s Christian Montessori School, a Durham Early Head Start and NC Pre-K site. Engaging in meaningful outdoor activities has a deep impact on the healthy development of young children. Volunteers will also help to plant vegetables and herbs in the garden, which develops children’s understanding of food systems and improves environmental attitudes and food choices. 
  • Volunteers are helping to guide the work of the Partnership by lending their time, expertise, and passion for early childhood by serving on our Board of Directors and Committees.

We would like to thank all of our volunteers for the valuable work they do, as they make a world of difference in the lives of young children across Durham County. If you are interested in volunteering with the Partnership, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn at krissy@dpfc.net or (919) 403-6960 ext. 230.

Thank you for making a difference for young children!

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