Virginia Municipality Prioritizes Early Education in Public-Private Venture

Virginia Beach’s early education initiative, GrowSmart, has been receiving state and national recognition due to their strong alignment between early education and economic development.  Below are some highlights from their most recent newsletter that we wanted to share with you, including a recent presentation from E3:Elevate Early Education’s founding chair, Gary McCollum:

Creating a Competitive Workforce

On Thursday, January 17, Mayor Sessoms and Gary McCollum, co-chair of Envision Virginia Beach 2040, held a call to action meeting to align with the vision set forth by Envision VB 2040. Specifically, the purpose of the meeting was to develop a strategy for implementing Bold Step #2: “Increase investment in early childhood education.” Warren Harris, Director of Economic Development in Virginia Beach, opened the meeting by expressing his support of early education initiatives as part of the City of Virginia Beach’s larger economic development strategy. Mr. Harris then introduced Gary McCollum, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Cox Virginia. Mr. McCollum addressed why early education is important to the business community.

Attended by leaders in the business and higher education communities, elected officials, Virginia Beach City Public Schools School Board members and staff, and other local early education partners, the meeting provided a brief overview of the City’s GrowSmart program and the future direction of the program. Council members Glenn Davis and Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond were in attendance, along with Deputy City Manager Cindy Curtis. The City’s ready-to-learn initiative started in the Library department in 1998 and now the program, called GrowSmart, resides in Economic Development because of the close alignment with workforce development.

Those in attendance last Thursday were asked to commit to advancing the mission of Virginia Beach GrowSmart by becoming an advocate for increased investment in early education, sponsoring a child care center or preschool for the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), funding a teacher scholarship, or serving on a GrowSmart strategic planning committee that will begin work next month.

Missed the meeting but want to get involved?

Contact Karen Kehoe at: or call (757) 385-0144.


Did You Know?

Virginia Beach GrowSmart, working in partnership with Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads, has made several significant accomplishments in the area of early childhood education. Here are some highlights of the important work GrowSmart and our partners have been engaged in:

  • Decrease in kindergarteners needing reading remediation from 1 in 5 to 1 in 10
  • Sponsored scholarships for 8 early childhood professionals in 2012-13
  • 35 Virginia Beach child care centers and preschools in QRIS process
  • Provide resources and information to over 2,000 local families
  • Partnership with Virginia Beach City Public Schools to develop common expectations for kindergarten readiness
  • Partnership with Small Business Development Center (currently in 4th year):
    • Training & mentoring for 17 small, women, & minority-owned businesses
    • Average increase in enrollment for participating programs: 37%
    • Average increase in revenues for participating programs: 29%
    • 24 jobs created



What if the Decisions You Make Today Saved You $2 Billion by 2030?

That is the question we’ll be asking audience members, representing local governments from around the United States and Canada, at the 2013 Transforming Local Government’s Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The City of Virginia Beach’s forward-thinking model of aligning early childhood education and economic development efforts has been selected from over 100 proposals nation-wide for presentation at this year’s conference.

Learn more about Virginia Beach’s presentation.


We’re so pleased to see Virginia Beach’s city leadership making early education a priority!  For more information on Virginia Beach’s early education efforts, contact Karen Kehoe at: or call (757) 385-0144.

Invest in our Children!