A Catalyst for “Our Kids”

by Easter Maynard

This week’s guest blogger is Easter Maynard, Executive Director, ChildTrust Foundation and the Director of Charitable Giving for IMC, parent company of Golden Corral, and serves on numerous boards and commissions and offers a strong civic-minded voice within the business community.  Easter is the 2017 winner of the Triangle Community Foundation Catalyst Award for visionary philanthropy, presented at their annual What Matters luncheon.

As a college student, I volunteered in a Head Start class in Winston-Salem – an amazing opportunity to see both the needs that young children face and what’s possible when they have access to quality learning opportunities. That experience gave me an early and powerful impression of how critical this work is for so many children and for our communities as a whole.

Now as a parent and a philanthropist, I see daily the work that so many are doing on behalf of all children in our community. I’m proud to see the power of collaboration among nonprofits and service providers to do what’s best for children and families – and I’m excited to be working with other funders who are following that example of strength in partnership.

Yesterday I joined with more than 500 attendees at What Matters: Our Kids community luncheon, hosted by Triangle Community Foundation. They represented nonprofits, businesses, philanthropists and public officials who dug deep to talk about ensuring that every child in our region, no matter their race or socio-economic status, has the opportunity to succeed, particularly when it comes to education and reading by the end of third-grade.

We were inspired by keynote speaker Sonia Manzano, a first-generation American of Latino descent who has affected the lives of millions of parents and children since the early 1970s as “Maria” on Sesame Street. A staunch advocate for literacy, Manzano shared her unique perspective as a powerful advocate for young children and their families through her stories of her personal journey through poverty, challenge and access to education. Attendees had the chance to participate in sessions by local experts on the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, take a “data walk” to discover who our kids are in the region, learn how they can serve as an advocate for our kids, and discuss how to develop a vision for early learning success.

At ChildTrust Foundation our investments focus on education, literacy and early childhood interventions that impact North Carolina’s most vulnerable children, specifically from birth through age eight. As the charitable arm of Investors Management Corporation, the Foundation believes that strategic investments in advocacy and direct service can lead to systemic changes that will positively impact children’s lives for generations to come. Our involvement with organizations across North Carolina goes beyond financial gifts to include collaboration, networking and capacity-building to ensure greater success.

As an early childhood advocate, I believe strongly that, as Lori O’Keefe said yesterday to the crowd, we cannot stand by while our kids need help. We must be their voice, and we must work together to change the landscape by learning, sharing and connecting.

  • Learn. Understand the issues surrounding access to opportunity in education.
  • Share. Spread what you learn. Be an advocate for our kids.
  • Connect. Work with the organizations directly addressing literacy in our community. Give your time, talent and treasure.

Change begins with a choice. Let’s choose – together – to change the future for our kids

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