For low-income children and families, access to quality early learning and care does a lot more than help assure 3rd grade reading proficiency, said Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, earlier this week at a leadership dinner for North Carolina State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues'  2018 Forum.

“Early literacy is not only the gateway to success in the early grades,” Smith told about 200 of the state’s political, business, philanthropic and education leaders who gathered for the dinner. “It's a way to deal with elephant in the room -- poverty."

That theme resonated during the two-day forum -- called “Kidonomics – which made the case for increased public, private and philanthropic investment in early education as a pathway toward 3rd grade reading proficiency, high school graduation, and a strong state workforce.

“Research time and again tells us early education matters,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper during the forum’s opening session. “There is a demonstrable, quantifiable difference between kids who get it and those who don’t. We need the business community to say to the legislature that education is a number one priority, our workforce is a number one priority and investment in pre-k, schools and universities has to be priority over everything else,” he said.

The forum keyed off findings from a report by a blue ribbon commission on local financing for early childhood development, including the importance of private and public capital investment in local early childhood programs and need to close gaps in early learning access and outcomes between low-income children and their better-off peers.

Huddle readers may want to check out videos of some of the forum sessions.

3rd Grade Reading & Closing the Skills Gap featured remarks by ATT North Carolina President Vanessa Harrison, PNC Bank Regional President Jim Hansen, and Jim Goodnight, the co-founder and CEO of North Carolina-based SAS, one of the world’s leading business analytics software vendors.

Pathways to Grade Level Reading: Taking Action to Improve Childhood Literacy gives an overview of work by Mandy Ableidinger, policy and practice leader for the  North Carolina Early Education Foundation – the lead state entity for the Campaign – to provide a blueprint the state and communities can use to assure 3rd grade reading proficiency for all North Carolina students.

Read more about this event in the kidoNomiCs Forum Wrap-up!

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