History & Impact

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History & Impact

Virginia Beach GrowSmart is the City of Virginia Beach's early childhood education initiative. GrowSmart was created in 2009 when the former "Ready to Learn" team​ of the Virginia Beach Public Libraries formed a strong partnership with the Virginia Beach Health Department's Healthy Families Virginia Beach program. Under the new name of GrowSmart, a team of practitioners, led by a full-time GrowSmart Coordinator, came together regularly to assess the state of early childhood in our city and region and to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated local early childhood system.

The GrowSmart office was strategically moved from the Department of Public Libraries to the Department of Economic Development in 2011. This important organizational shift represents our City's understanding that early childhood education is an important economic issue. Workforce development begins in the years prior to kindergarten, when brain development occurs most rapidly. By helping our youngest children to grow up healthy and ready to succeed in school, we do what is right not just for our citizens, but for our future economic vitality.

Our Historical Timeline

2009

GrowSmart Created GrowSmart

GrowSmart

GrowSmart was created in 2009 when the former "Ready to Learn" team​ of the Virginia Beach Public Libraries formed a strong partnership with the Virginia Beach Health Department's Healthy Families program. Branded with the new name of GrowSmart, a team of practitioners, led by a full-time GrowSmart Coordinator, came together regularly to assess the state of early childhood in our city and region and to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated local early childhood system.

2011

Moved to Department of Economic Development GrowSmart Moved

GrowSmart Moved

The GrowSmart office was strategically moved to the Department of Economic Development in 2011. This important organizational shift represents our City's understanding that early childhood education is an important economic issue. Workforce development begins in the years prior to kindergarten, when brain development occurs most rapidly. By helping our youngest children grow up healthy and ready to succeed in school, we do what is right not just for our citizens, but for our future economic vitality.

2012

Joined Campaign for Grade-Level Reading National Campaign

National Campaign

In 2012, Virginia Beach joined the National Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to energize the entire community around the critical issue of ensuring all children are reading on or above grade level by third grade.

Virginia Beach Reads is our local coalition and includes over 13 community partners to move the needle in kindergarten readiness, summer learning, attendance, and reading proficiency. In 2019, Virginia Beach was honored as a pacesetter for its measurable improvement in kindergarten readiness and third-grade reading proficiency for low-income students.

2014

Virginia Beach GrowSmart Foundation Formed The Foundation

The Foundation

Vision: Our investment today in early childhood education will benefit future generations and result in a prepared workforce and economically vital community.

Mission: The Foundation's purpose is to support Virginia Beach GrowSmart's initiatives through advocacy and by securing public and private sector funding.

Formed in June 2014, the purpose of the Foundation is to bolster the work of Virginia Beach GrowSmart by securing increased funding through public grants and private donations. Additionally, the Virginia Beach GrowSmart Foundation acts as an advocacy group that seeks to garner support from both the public and private sectors. The GrowSmart Foundation Board helps to ensure that increased attention and resources are devoted to early childhood education and development.

2017

Became a LENA Start Community LENA Start

LENA Start

In 2017, Virginia Beach was one of 11 new communities to launch LENA Start, a parent group model using innovative talk pedometer technology. The goal is to empower parents of children ages 0–3 years and strengthen the home language environments during this critical phase of development. Start groups meet weekly for ten engaging, facilitated sessions. Each session introduces caregivers to simple talking strategies, coaching on how to weave these into daily routines and feedback reports on your home language environment. Families get high-quality resource materials and FREE weekly take-home books. Classes are family-friendly and include child care and a meal or snack.

2019

Awarded What Works Cities Grant What Works Cities

What Works Cities

In the fall of 2019, Virginia Beach and was one of five cities awarded a What Works Cities – Providence Talks Replication grant of $448,000 over the next three years. This grant initiative led by GrowSmart will expand on our LENA work and embed this early talk focus and innovative talk pedometer into our existing home visiting services and early education professional development. With our collaborative partners, Virginia Beach will launch LENA Grow and LENA Home. This work aligns with our shared goal of ensuring children are supported in healthy development and begin school ready to learn.