Innovative Partnerships

First launched in 2015, Innovative Partnership Grants support Smart Beginnings partners as they implement and document for potential replication local innovations for improving access to high quality early education for at-risk children, readying children, families, and schools for kindergarten success.

Check out the “bright spots” of innovations launched by these grants.


FY19 Innovative Partnership Grants:

Smart Beginnings Central Virginia:
  • The Early Education System Alignment Project (EESAP) creates partnerships with public and private early childhood programs to ensure that children from all racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds have equitable access to high quality learning experiences. Among other strategies, the partnerships will provide training and coaching; implement kindergarten transition practices between private early childhood settings and public schools; and bring early learning programming into targeted neighborhoods identified by school divisions.
Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke: 
  • The Data Partnership and Capacity Builder project, which pairs child- and program-level assessment data with training on the use of these data for ongoing programmatic quality improvement. Working in partnership with Virginia Quality and Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, the project will measure the correlation between teacher-child interactions, school readiness, and program quality, and will use the findings to make data-informed decisions at the community level.
Smart Beginnings New River Valley (NRV):
  • The NRV School Readiness Action Plan will develop the region’s first school readiness strategic plan in collaboration with key stakeholders engaged in early childhood systems-building. The project will include the creation of a data-sharing agreement with all NRV school divisions, which will position the community to establish connections between and make informed decisions about early childhood experiences, the quality of those experiences and school readiness outcomes.
Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area in partnership with the University of Virginia’s Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS)
  • The Kindergarten Readiness Project will provide supplemental literacy curriculum with on-site training and coaching at three participating private early childhood programs. These interventions are designed to increase the quality of instruction and improve school readiness for young children; assist programs in moving into higher levels in Virginia Quality; and lead to replicable strategies for providing technical assistance for quality improvement.
Smart Beginnings Thomas Jefferson Area:
  • The FY19 Innovative Partnership Project will increase data-sharing among and between agencies serving young children to drive systems-level change. The project will pair data from community partners serving young children with data collected in public schools. This partnership will provide support to service providers in making informed decisions about practices that balance quality, affordability, and access, and that ultimately lead to improved school readiness.
Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula
  • The PD4PK: Raising Quality through Pre-K CLASS Instruction project will create a cohort of teachers from Hampton City Schools, Newport News Public Schools, and private early childhood programs that are participating in Virginia Quality. These teachers will participate in training aligned with the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), a tool that measures teacher-child interactions which are correlated to positive child outcomes. Participating teachers will be well-prepared to provide rich instructional practices that lead to improved school readiness in young children.


FY18 Innovative Partnership Grants:

Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond in a collaborative partnership with Smart Beginnings Southeast:
  • The Innovative Partnerships Grant 2 data sharing initiative will enhance the region’s (17 jurisdictions) ability to target interventions to early care and education programs in need. Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond and Smart Beginnings Southeast will be better prepared to make data-driven decisions, benchmark specific gaps in services and determine needs of children and early care programs.
Smart Beginnings Shenandoah Valley: 
  • The Two Gen Success project will convene a partnership of existing service providers to implement a two-generational care and support initiative focused on creating an education pathway for both teen parents and their children at the same time.
Smart Beginnings Central Virginia:
  • The Early Childhood Education Peer Leadership Institute (ECEPLI) will align quality across multiple Early Care and Education (ECE) settings, using the CLASS tool as a regional building block for pre-k systems. The ECEPLI will also engage key stakeholders to provide a platform for sharing what is working best in each school division; encourage smooth transition for children and families to kindergarten and cultivate an awareness of a pre-K through Grade 3 continuum.


FY17 Innovative Partnership Grants:

Innovative Partnership Grants were awarded with a new twist in FY17: the four grantees worked together in a coordinated collaboration to ensure the sharing and replication of data innovations across four regions. The specific goal or barrier addressed and the relevant innovative solution for each grantee are outlined below:

Smart Beginnings Greater Roanoke
  • Issue Being Addressed: Assuring quality early care and education services for at-risk children that increase their school readiness; efficient and effective use of quality improvement resources for targeted results
  • Innovative Solution: Expand scope and scale of data tracking, analysis, and synthesis from child care settings to school division classrooms to intentionally inform quality improvement and resource investment decisions in participating child care centers and programs
Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond
  • Issue Being Addressed: Overcoming barriers to expansion of Virginia Quality to improve quality of early care and education
  • Innovative Solution: Improve alignment between public and private early care and education programs by building opportunities for shared data and analysis across sectors, thereby providing information, connections, and structures needed for Virginia Quality expansion
Smart Beginnings Thomas Jefferson Area
  • Issue Being Addressed: Assuring that low-income children have access to early childhood experiences that support school readiness and reducing data fragmentation across diverse and varied early childhood service sectors
  • Innovative Solution: Establish a cross-jurisdictional system for gathering and sharing data across public and private early childhood service partners
Smart Beginnings Southeast
  • Issue Being Addressed: Upskilling the early childhood workforce in rural, low income communities and reducing challenges to access to community college coursework while also assuring a supportive learning environment for non-traditional students
  • Innovative Solution: Partnership with John Tyler Community College to expand availability of off-campus classes and implement a cohort model support system for students for whom the distance to a college campus offering early childhood coursework is a barrier to access