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Smart Start exceeds Mebane Challenge goal

By Jeanna Baxter White

Word Master Media Group

Drumroll please.

Smart Start of Davie County has announced that the $10,000 Mebane Foundation Challenge Grant has not only been met but exceeded.

Thanks to contributions from the Davie community, Smart Start has raised $33,345 to fund its family support and literacy programs.

“We are humbled by the donations from local businesses and individual people in the community to support early education programs and Smart Start of Davie County,” said Gena Taylor, executive director. “We appreciate the wonderful work by the Mebane Foundation through grants that have helped us grow our literacy and family support programs over the years. The success of our mission is attributed to generous supporters and we are deeply grateful to Mebane for their challenge grant, and to everyone that donated.”

Smart Start had to cancel its annual Hometown Hoedown fundraising event, which typically raises $40,000-$60,000, due to COVID-related gathering restrictions. Since state funding was reduced for the Smart Start network across the state approximately 10 years ago, fundraising and grant writing have played a critical role in supporting the organization’s early care and family support programs, according to Taylor.

To support the organization after the cancelation of the event, and to promote early education initiatives in Davie County, Mebane Foundation President Larry Colbourne issued a challenge offering a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10,000.

“The Mebane Foundation continues to be amazed by the willingness and support of the Davie County community to step up when organizations like Smart Start have a need. In this environment, many of our local non-profits are feeling the same type of pain with respect to fundraising shortfalls. With Smart Start being our long-term partner and working in the very same space our mission has us in, it made this challenge a perfect fit for us. I want to congratulate Gena, her staff, and volunteers for their all hard work.”

Taylor said that the Mebane match will go toward funding Smart Start’s family support programs and literacy programs where state funds fall short.

Smart Start of Davie serves to ensure that young children enter kindergarten healthy and ready to succeed in school and beyond. The organization connects the community through programs that ensure quality early education, health, and family support for all children prenatal to kindergarten in Davie County.

These programs include:

• Child Care Subsidy – A child care scholarship program for families;

• Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library – An early literacy program for children;

• Parents as Teachers – An in-home parent/child education program;

• Nurturing Parenting Program – A 10-week parenting class;

• Strengthening the Foundations of Quality – A technical assistance program for child care providers;

• Early Childhood Resource Center – A free educational kit and resource lending library for parents and child care providers;

• Reach Out and Read – An early literacy program championed by local pediatricians; and

• WAGE$ – An educational incentive program for child care providers.

“Many of the family support and community programs we offer, such as KidsFest, Nurturing Parents, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, and Reach Out and Read are primarily funded by grants and private donations,” said Heather Phillips, Smart Start board chair. “We are so grateful to the Mebane Foundation’s Challenge Grant in lieu of hosting our popular Hometown Hoedown event due to health and safety reasons. Because of the Foundation and the community’s generosity, we were able to raise enough funds to confidently continue offering these beloved programs to the families of Davie County.”

Although the Mebane Foundation Challenge has ended, it is never too late to give. Donations will continue to help provide quality programs serving children prenatal to 5 years, families, and caregivers Call the office, or mail checks to 1278 Yadkinville Rd., Mocksville.