Mission: Smart from the Start is a family support, community engagement and school readiness program that has as its mission to prevent the achievement gap among Bostonʼs lowest income children. Smart from the Start empowers families and communities with the resources, tools and support to break cycles of generational poverty and chronic school underachievement.
Results: This year, we have increased the number of sites and programs offered to accommodate our growing numbers. We do not have a waiting list, and have made a commitment to serve every child and family that comes through our doors, or that we meet in our communities, and have built capacity in our sites to do so. In addition, we are providing thousands more with access to early learning and social support resources through our "Community Unity Partnership Initiative" where "play-to-learn" spaces and book giveaway stations are in over 70 local businesses throughout all 7 Smart neighborhoods.
Our family leadership program, of 51 new family leaders, has also been a source of great pride for Smart from the Start this year. Leaders participate in a number of opportunities such as traveling to New Orleans for the Urban League National Conference, New Hampshire to train rural family leaders and participate in an annual Washington DC trip. Leaders attend a series of workshops and training sessions to build on their leadership skills, discuss issues effecting their communities, and learn more about community organizing efforts! Also they took it upon themselves, to learn everything they could about the voter registration process, and to become a register "Rock the Vote" site.
Smart from the Start has been committed to investing in high quality evaluation and data collection to ensure that our strategies and programming are effective, and to inform our work going forward. Our ongoing evaluation conducted by Dr. Theodore Cross and Associates, has done just that. Our work has proven to be cost effective, data proves that for every $1 spent, there is up to a $17.07 return on investment. Our evaluation data confirms that families who had all but given up, are now setting and achieving goals for their own self-sufficiency. They are learning more about child development and positive parenting skills, and are enthusiastically and proudly embracing their role as their child's first teacher. Data showed that, for children and parents who regularly participated in our programs:
- 77% of children showed increased language and literacy skills.
- 76% displayed positive social and emotional growth.
- 92% of families were reading more to their children.
- 91% of families participated in adult education opportunities.
- 72% of parents reported expressing themselves more positively with their children.
Target demographics: Boston's lowest income families with children 0-5 years old
Direct beneficiaries per year: 4,000
Geographic areas served: Charlestown, Mattapan, Roslindale, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Lower Roxbury and the South End
Programs: Rather than duplicating existing services, Smart from the Start works in partnership with community-based organizations, stakeholders and families to improve access and utilization of existing community resources, while identifying and filling gaps as needed. Families are participating in a range of services through Smart from the Start, including Play to Learn and Socialization Groups, Baby Basics, Prenatal programs, Focusing on Fatherhood, Parenting workshops, and much more! For a complete list, visit our website: smartfromthestartboston.org