New to NC, nonprofit addresses early literacy in Charlotte

New to NC, nonprofit addresses early literacy in Charlotte

When the coronavirus crisis hit Charlotte, the United Way of Central Carolinas and Foundation For The Carolinas partnered to launch the COVID-19 Response Fund.

The fund supports a wide range of nonprofits, assisting people most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Importantly, this fund will help not just those who get sick, but also those who are economically impacted, such as families of students who cannot afford educational materials and supplies needed for remote learning.

One of the recipients was ParentChild+, a nonprofit that uses education to break the cycle of poverty for low-income families.

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“We engage early in life and help toddlers, their parents and their family child care providers access a path to possibility,” said Angie Drakeford, North Carolina state director for ParentChild+.

The organization received a $35,000 grant to assist Charlotte families with Wi-Fi access, rent and utility payments and household supplies.

“As home visiting became unsafe, we converted to virtual visits to make sure we did not lose contact with our children and families,” Drakeford said. “Once providing early literacy needs, we quickly moved into providing necessary family items, gift cards and referrals.”

For over 50 years, ParentChild+ has been leveling the playing field and preparing children living in poverty for success in school and in life throughout six countries.

New to North Carolina, the nonprofit relies heavily on grants and donations to serve families in the Charlotte community.

“We rely on funding to ensure sustainability and expansion throughout Mecklenburg and surrounding counties,” Drakeford said. “Ultimately, we will be seeking public funding as our program works directly with children who will be entering into the Pre-K program.”

She added, “ParentChild+ graduates are 50% more likely to be prepared for kindergarten than their socio-economic peers, and enter school performing 10 months above their chronological age.”

“For families living in underserved communities, we are a first step on the ladder to success,” Drakeford said. “What we provide isn’t just early literacy, it is early opportunity.”

ParentChild+ is one of many organizations working to improve the quality of education.

According to Classroom Central, about 127,000 children in the Charlotte region lack the basic school supplies they need to be successful in school.

Since 1997, in partnership with Classroom Central and Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, the WSOC-TV 9 School Tools program has collected school supplies, which are then distributed free to students in grades K-12.

For many families, the needs of the home sometimes outweigh the needs at school. When a family must choose between buying enough food for the evening dinner or paying the power bill, the pressure of purchasing school supplies is an added expense that families can’t afford.

A 9 School Tools financial donation program is in place with different levels of giving that will support the needs of Classroom Central. Donors can equate their monetary donation to what can be supplied by Classroom Central.

Here are some of the giving levels:

  • A donation of $9 will help provide homework supplies for students.
  • A donation of $25 will help fill a student’s backpack with school supplies.
  • A donation of $50 will supply a teacher with essential school items.
  • A donation of $100 will supply an entire class with STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) kits.

Learn more about 9 School Tools at