Listening, Learning and Leading: Virginia Early Childhood Foundation Hosts Collaborative, Idea-Sharing Event for Statewide Smart Beginnings Leaders and Stakeholders

Richmond, Va. (Oct. 24, 2017) – More than 75 early childhood leaders from across the Commonwealth will gather in Richmond on Oct. 25-27 for the Smart Beginnings Annual Meeting, coordinated by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation.

The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation fosters Smart Beginnings initiatives to ensure that communities across Virginia have capacity to support the good health and school readiness of young children from birth to age five. The annual meeting provides a chance for these leaders to share and learn innovative ideas and best practices in supporting comprehensive school readiness services at the local level.

On the first day, a panel of nonprofit leaders will share information about building strong local early childhood systems, exploring the important role of intermediaries, and overcoming barriers that prevent children from accessing services that promote school readiness in their communities.

At the dinner on Oct. 25, attendees will hear a presentation by David Dodson, who is president of MDC, a think tank in Durham, N.C. He and his team have conducted research on barriers to social and economic mobility and have studied how to move people from poverty to self-sufficiency. Dodson will share data on equity issues and provide insights on the impact that poverty has on school readiness.

The second day of the annual meeting will include sessions with Anne Mitchell, President of Early Childhood Policy Research. She will discuss financing strategies for early childhood initiatives and specifically for the Quality Rating & Improvement System (QRIS), which rates and supports childcare centers in the quality of services young children.

Attendees will also learn about the Richmond Area Service Alliance (RASA) that launched in the summer of 2017 to provide “back-office” business operations for several child care centers in Richmond. Presenters from the Robins Foundation and The Community Foundation will discuss the opportunities of investing in this strategy, which enables these child care centers to focus their attention and resources on the quality of services and personnel. Representatives from the RASA team will offer a real-time report on experiences and lessons learned since the launch.

“The annual meeting is designed to provide participants with innovative tools and strategies that will support and transform school readiness efforts in their own communities,” said Kathy Glazer, President of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. “We are honored to have such a diverse lineup of national, regional and local speakers who are generous in sharing their insights and expertise. Together, we are striving to improve the school readiness of Virginia’s young children as they grow to become the talented workforce needed for a prosperous Commonwealth.”

To request a full agenda of the annual meeting, contact

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About the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation: VECF creates results-oriented partnerships to ensure that young children are healthy and prepared for school, life and workforce success. To learn more about VECF and the Smart Beginnings initiative, visit

Media Contact: Sara Hunt,, 804-994-1120