Collaboration At Work: Smart Beginnings

Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond, which launched in 2007, exemplifies what can be achieved when communities work together. The initiative convenes more than 180 organizations to develop innovative solutions that address systemic issues facing our future workforce.

Article by Rich Schultz, Executive Director of Smart Beginnings Greater Richmond

Staggering regional statistics are compelling leaders to act:

  • 20% of children 0-5 live in poverty—that’s 16,035 children.
  • 1 of every 8 children in our region enters school without the necessary skills to be successful.
  • 869 students a ending 3rd grade in 2013-2014 were held back before that year, which cost taxpayers $9.4 million.

These statistics deeply a ect individual children and families, as well as the economic vitality of the region. Smart Beginnings tackles these issues from a coordinated, regional approach so that more children enter school ready to succeed.

Regional Collaboration

Starting in 2011, Smart Beginnings and local school systems implemented a public awareness campaign promoting a single date for kindergarten registration. This initiative will continue in 2016 and has grown to include 15 school divisions. Surveys from 2015 report that 93% of parents were better prepared to register because of the campaign.

Driving Efficiency

Smart Beginnings helped establish the Home Visiting Referral Center with the City of Richmond and United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg in 2008 to streamline referrals to home visiting programs so that more at-risk families could access services. The effort continued to evolve, and participating programs have benefited from more than $1M in state grants since 2013 to expand services in challenged neighborhoods.


This example of regional collaboration not only brings together multiple partners, but also crosses both our Education and Social Stability priority areas. Contact us if you have a collaborative story to share.