NC Lawmakers learn that getting children ready to read starts in the first 2,000 days

by Administrator 5. March 2015 15:27

 “To increase economic growth and ensure the prosperity of all North Carolinians, we must cultivate a future workforce that is highly literate, knowledgeable, and skilled.  This will only happen when we give each child a fair chance to fulfill his or her potential from the start," said James Maynard, Co-Founder and Chairman of Golden Corral Corporation, at a legislative breakfast on Grade-Level Reading held this week.

The event was hosted by the N.C. Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) and BEST NC, a group of business leaders focused on improving state education. It was attended by more than 45 members of the NC General Assembly; representatives from the Governor’s Office, Department of Public Instruction and Superintendent’s staff; and leaders from early learning and education organizations.

The message of the morning was simple: getting children to read at grade level by third grade is critically important, but making sure children reach that stage starts at birth.

 “Attention is focused on the achievement gap among school-aged students, but the gap is evident at nine months old,” said Tracy Zimmerman, executive director of NCECF.

The most rapid period of development in human life occurs during a child’s first 2,000 days. What happens during this critical window sets the foundation for all of the years that follow.

Early literacy is a crucial part of a child’s development. It enhances vocabulary, builds important communication skills, and gives them the tools they need to be successful in school and in life. Children who aren’t reading well by the end of third grade, are four times more likely to drop out of high school. In North Carolina, 31% of all fourth graders could not read at a basic level according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress 2013.

Along with our partners in early childhood across the state, like NCECF, we are working to improve outcomes for children by continuing to educate our legislators about the importance of early learning . Please click here to sign up for our advocacy e-alerts, get more involved in our legislative efforts, and find out how you can be a champion for young children in Durham!

Support children in Durham on MLK Day

by Administrator 16. January 2015 12:20

This Monday, January 19th, celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King's vision of a world in which every child has the chance to realize his or her full potential. Here are a couple of great local events where you can support young children in Durham!

NC's annual MLK Birthday Party is on Monday, January 19th. This free family-friendly event will take place from 10:30am - 12:30pm at the Center Court at Northgate Mall (1058 West Club Boulevard) and will feature English/Spanish story times, songs, crafts, activities, performances, and birthday cake as people celebrate Dr. King’s life and legacy in a way that children can understand. In continuing Dr. King’s commitment to service, participants are asked to donate nonperishable food (especially peanut butter, canned meat, and pasta), new packaged toiletries (soap, toothbrushes, diapers, etc.), or new underwear/ socks for children and adults for local families in need served by Urban Ministries of Durham.

At noon, attendees will sing Happy Birthday to Dr. King, learn freedom songs, share cake, and enjoy music and dance performances by special guests.

Click here for more details.

Book Harvest, a nonprofit which provides books to low-income children, will host the Dream Big Book Drive at the Carolina Theatre of Durham (309 West Morgan Street) on the afternoon of MLK Day, January 19th. From 1:00 to 4:00 that day, community members are invited to bring their book donations to the Carolina Theatre and to celebrate Dr. King’s 86th birthday by joining in service with Book Harvest’s volunteers and more than three dozen members of the North Carolina Literacy Corps.

Master of Ceremonies Tisha Powell of WTVD/ABC-11 will kick off the festivities at 1:00 pm. The event will also feature comments from Durham Mayor Bill Bell and other special guests, live music, food trucks, the Scrap Exchange, a photo booth, and a chance to tour the “Confronting Change” exhibit on the third floor of the Carolina Theatre. Last year's Dream Big Book Drive resulted in 33,677 donated books, and they hope to collect even more this year to spread the gift of literacy to children in Durham.

Click here for more details.

Make this day off a day on by giving back and supporting these great organizations in our community!

Only 2 more weeks for holiday giving!

by Administrator 16. December 2014 13:07

It's hard to believe that the holiday season is coming to an end in just a few short weeks! There are only 2 weeks left to give to the Partnership through the INDY Week Give!Guide and our Holiday Book Drive with Barnes & Noble. Both these efforts last until December 31st, so please make your gifts now to support young children and their families throughout Durham!

Make a gift!

Please make a gift to the Partnership through the INDY Week Give!Guide to help prepare young children in Durham for success in school and in life! When you contribute anytime before December 31st, you have a chance to win prizes from our local business partners at Mateo, Bull City Burger & Brewery, Pompieri Pizza and the Cupcake Bar. And since today is a Big Give Day, you'll also be entered to win a special package from the Umstead Hotel and Spa. Give big and win big!

Donate books!

Purchase books at Barnes & Noble during our Holiday Book Drive to help us spread the gift of literacy to young children across Durham! Our 9th Annual Holiday Book Drive has already been a huge success this year thanks to the wonderful customers at Barnes & Noble at Southpoint. As you finish up your holiday shopping, please remember to purchase books for children. We will collect and distribute them to children who are least likely to have books of their own in order to share a love of reading and learning.

Thank you for your generosity during the holiday season and throughout the year. Your support helps prepare children to succeed!

Faith volunteers enhance early development

by Administrator 8. December 2014 16:18

by Winnie Morgan, Faith Initiative Coordinator, Durham's Partnership for Children

Faith volunteers are the best! Well, I am biased as the Faith Initiative Coordinator for Early Childhood for Durham's Partnership for Children. I recently partnered with CONDUIT (Churches of Northern Durham United in inTention), Durham Head Start at Oxford Manor, and parents to have an exciting and engaging story hour in the Head Start classroom. The theme for the day was feast and family, so we began by reading the book “Feast for 10” by Cathryn Falwell.

After reading the book, the children went to three stations to reinforce the story. At one station, volunteers Barbara and Burton enjoyed a real feast with the children, including mini muffins, carrots, apples, oranges and pretzels. Each child got to frost their own cupcake and add sprinkles. Many of the children had never tried pea pods for a snack before and were amazed they liked them! Parents were encouraged to try the easy muffin recipe as a simple and fun way to engage children at home.


Another station focused on exploring with puppets to retell the story or to make up a new story. Volunteer Lee and a parent created a stage for the show with a broom stick between two chairs with a blanket over the handle. Children on each side of the "stage" enjoyed talking back and forth to each other with their handmade puppets – clippings of people from advertisements taped to Popsicle sticks. Parents could see how easy it is to engage young children in storytelling! So simple. So fun.

The last station involved using recycled white placemat paper to draw your family. The children eagerly talked with volunteer Kim and parents about who was in their family as they created their masterpieces to take home.


The story hour ended with children, parents and volunteers listening to the second story, "The Beastly Feast" by Bruce Goldstone. This book was a whimsical rhyming book about what each beast brought to the feast.

The CONDUIT faith volunteers engaged children and parents with INTENTION in activities, and they empowered parents to go home and replicate many of the activities for little or no cost. What a fun and productive day for all!

2014 Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive

by Administrator 3. November 2014 11:00

We are pleased to announce the 2014 Barnes & Noble Holiday Book Drive has begun! This is our ninth year partnering with Barnes & Noble at the Streets at Southpoint to collect books for young Durham County children. During last year’s book drive we collected nearly 3,400 books that we distributed to 19 organizations helping young children. With your help, we hope to share the gift of literacy with even more children this year!

Here's how you can help:

  • Visit Barnes & Noble at the Streets at Southpoint any time before December 31st to buy a book for a young child. The Partnership collects and distributes the books throughout the community.
  • Visit Partnership staff and volunteers at the store on Friday, December 12th where we will be wrapping gifts for Barnes & Noble customers.
  • Let us know of community agencies that could benefit from donated books.
  • Spread the word and urge others to support this cause!

If you know of organizations in Durham that could use donated books for children, please contact Elaine Erteschik. If you're interested in getting more involved with this year's Book Drive, please contact Krissy Dunn to learn about other volunteer opportunities.

Thanks for helping us share a love of reading this holiday season!

Hillary Clinton announces early literacy toolkit for pediatricians and parents

by Administrator 14. October 2014 10:20

This past weekend, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the launch of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) new early literacy toolkit for pediatricians and parents. The toolkit – Books Build Connections – provides updated, practical resources for pediatric professionals, as well as guidance for families on the importance of talking, reading, and singing with their children to promote early learning. The toolkit will be shared with the AAP’s 62,000 pediatrician members at their annual convention this week.

In June, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced a partnership with Too Small to Fail (a joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation), Scholastic Inc., and Reach Out and Read to raise awareness among parents about early language development. The organizations have committed to supporting early literacy and ensuring that doctors, parents and caregivers have the information, tools and books they need to promote talking, reading out loud and singing to children every day starting in infancy.

Early literacy is a crucial part of a child’s development, as reading to children enhances vocabulary, builds important communication skills, and gives them the tools they need to be successful in school and in life.  But many low-income children are exposed to very little reading before entering school, and in fact, studies have found that by age four, children in middle and upper class families hear 30 million more words than their lower income peers.

“Coming to school without words is like coming to school without breakfast or books,” said Clinton.

This disparity in hearing words from parents and caregivers translates directly into a disparity in learning words, which puts children born with the fewest advantages even further behind. Unfortunately, it’s easy to understand how the achievement gap is evident long before children start school. 

"Fewer than half of children younger than 5 years old are read to daily in our country... now, more pediatricians are taking a stand to spread the news more widely through our recent policy, toolkit and partnership with Too Small to Fail. Talking, reading and singing with young children is a joyful way to build strong and healthy parent-child relationships, foster early language skills and promote children's development,” said James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, president of the AAP.

Pediatricians offer a nearly universal way to reach children before they begin school, and it is exciting to have the AAP’s 62,000 members as powerful advocates for reading and talking to children early and often! 

Click here to watch Clinton's full remarks at the AAP conference, and to read more about the early literacy toolkit, please click here. If you are interested in helping to inspire a love of reading through our Readers as Leaders volunteer program, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn.

American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading aloud to children from birth

by Administrator 25. June 2014 13:53

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) announced yesterday that it will begin issuing the recommendation that parents should read aloud to their children from birth. This is the first time the Academy has officially weighed in on early literacy education. This new policy is part of a collaborative effort of the AAP, Too Small to Fail, Scholastic Inc., and Reach Out and Read to raise awareness among parents about early language development.

There are only 2,000 days between a child’s birth and the time that child enters kindergarten, and 90% of brain development happens in those first five years. Early literacy is a crucial part of a child’s development, and reading to children enhances vocabulary, builds important communication skills, and gives them the tools they need to be successful in school and in life.  

But many low-income children are exposed to very little reading before entering school, and in fact, studies show that by age 3, children from more affluent families are exposed to 30 million more words than children from families receiving public assistance. Unfortunately, it’s easy to understand how the achievement gap is evident long before children start school. 

The AAP hopes to close this gap by asking its 62,000 members to become powerful advocates for reading aloud by encouraging parents each time they visit their child's doctor to read early and often.

According to the AAP, the effort takes a multi-pronged approach toward equipping parents with the best tools to ensure that their children are prepared to learn and ready to enter school:

  • Too Small to Fail and the AAP will share messages across their networks and media platforms about the importance of talking, reading out loud and singing to children from birth in order to build vocabulary and promote healthy brain development.
  • To jump start the partnership, Scholastic has donated 500,000 new, age-appropriate children's books for distribution through Reach Out and Read, the non-profit organization that works with 20,000 medical providers nationwide to promote early reading and give books to families at pediatric visits.
  • Reach Out and Read will also distribute a toolkit to be developed by the AAP, with support from Too Small to Fail, which will equip pediatricians with resources to educate parents on how to use everyday activities to improve communication with their infants and toddlers.

To read more about the AAP’s recommendations, please click here. If you are interested in helping to inspire a love of reading through our Readers as Leaders volunteer program, please click here or contact Krissy Dunn.

Oxford Manor celebrates end of year tutoring program with CONDUIT and Faith Initiative volunteers

by Administrator 23. May 2014 13:17

By: Winnie Morgan, Faith Initiative Coordinator at Durham's Partnership for Children

Oxford Manor students and their families recently celebrated the end of the year tutoring program with CONDUIT (Churches of Northern Durham United In Intention) volunteers. At the event, families had an opportunity to register for YMCA Camp and learn about kindergarten readiness programs and resources. It was a fun time of celebration, recognition, and learning.  

Students were given certificates that recognized their assets as well as gift bags, and a short entertainment program was presented by CONDUIT member Dorothy Clark. This was followed by bountiful delicious food for students and families including homemade yummy cookies. As families registered with Lakewood YMCA Summer Camp, I visited with families to see if they have preschoolers, particulary 4 and 5-year-olds who will attend kindergarten this fall or in 2015.

I shared Blast Off to Kindergarten Kits and talked with families about how to help their children get ready for school. At the end of the event, each child got to select several books furnished by CONDUIT and the Faith Initiative for summer reading, including board books for the youngest children. It was a wonderful celebration and recognition as well as a time to discover new resources.

CONDUIT is a collaboration of seven congregations in Northern Durham that started in 1988. Their outreach ministry and efforts in working with Oxford Manor families have been exemplary and a great example of our faith community's work in Durham County.

Pictured left to right: Beverly Fann (Greater Orange Grove Baptist Church), Diane Weller (Aldersgate UMC), Colleen Anna (Aldersgate UMC), Kathy Pittman (Grace Lutheran Church), Theresia McGee (Greater Orange Grove Baptist Church), Pat Jones (Mt. Sylvan UMC), Bobbie Reeves (Mt. Sylvan UMC), Lolly Holmes (Duke's Chapel UMC), and Dorothy Clark (Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church). Not pictured: Barbara Cameron (Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church).

Reading ROCks in Durham on May 14th

by Administrator 7. May 2014 14:50

Reading ROCks, a fun and free family event promoting literacy, will take place next Wednesday, May 14th, at 6:00 pm at the Holton Career and Resource Center (401 N. Driver Street). The event will feature a book reading with author Floyd Stokes, a parent workshop, and crafts for children. All children will receive a free book, and snacks and drinks will be provided. Register by emailing or calling 866-696-4580. Don’t miss this great event in Durham, and please help spread the word!

Durham Public Schools hosts Literacy Summit this Saturday, May 3rd

by Administrator 30. April 2014 12:00

Join Durham Public Schools and community members in addressing Durham’s literacy crisis at the 2014 DPS Literacy Summit, this Saturday, May 3 from 8:30 am - 1:00 pm at Brogden Middle School (1001 Leon St.Durham, NC 27704). Across the state, schools are addressing the impact of the new Read to Achieve Law, which requires 3rd graders who are not reading on grade level to attend summer reading camps and face being retained. This will impact as many as 900 3rd grade students in Durham. 

The purpose of the summit is to engage the community to support schools in improving reading skills. Volunteers from church and community tutoring, after school, summer, mentoring, preschool, and other programs are particularly encouraged to attend to receive training that can be put to use with children already being served.

Every attendee will receive training in the Big 6 skills that can be used to help Durham’s Pre-K-3rd grade readers. These strategies and tools can be put to use through existing community work and by volunteering to be a summer reader for the DPS reading camps. Hundreds of volunteers are needed to make a difference for Durham’s children!

Registration is requested, but not required. Breakfast, lunch, and childcare are offered, and Spanish translation is available. More information and online registration is available at  

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