Smart from the Start is a family support and community engagement organization that has as its mission to promote the healthy development of young children and families living in underserved communities. Smart provides the tools, resources and supports they need to break cycles of generational poverty and reduce disparities through multi-generational, evidence-based programming. We work with families to identify and build upon protective factors, while employing a strengths-based approach to mitigating the effects of trauma and addressing the social determinants of health that are essential to breaking negative cycles and to promoting positive, sustainable change for families and communities. Also, by providing access to culturally reflective and responsive services that promote physical and mental health and wellness, we disrupt negative cycles, and increase the self-sufficiency and overall wellbeing of children and families.
Community and Project Description
The neighborhood we are proudly working within is the Woodland Terrace Community of Southeast Washington, DC. Woodland Terrace is a DCHA housing development that is home to a population of families who have infinite potential, a rich proud history, and a strong sense of family and community, but struggle with a lack of coordinated services and opportunities. A formal Community Needs Assessments conducted last year revealed that, although we are clearly making a difference, additional resources are needed to grow our capacity and to meet a broader set of needs identified by the families. These findings were what inspired Smart to apply for the Families First DC funding opportunity. After a thorough application and vetting process, the opportunity to lead the Woodland Terrace Family Success Center was officially awarded to Smart from the Start by Mayor Muriel Bowser during a widely attended and celebrated event in Woodland Terrace on December 16, 2019.
With this new funding opportunity, we plan to significantly broaden our outreach to enroll new families with fewer restrictions over five years and to implement a sustained, longer term effort to anchor other service providers in the community to offer a wider range of programs and services.
Programming and Services will Include:
- Parenting Education
- Workforce Development/Certification Courses Career Counseling/Professional Development
- Health and Wellness Workshops/Programming
- Adult Education including GED/HiSet and Computer Courses
- Financial Literacy and Planning:
- Family Leadership Program:
- Address the Stress Mental Health Wellness Program:
- Focusing on Fatherhood:
- LEAP – Leadership, Empowerment and Advocacy Program for Young Fathers:
- Justice 4 All Initiative (National initiative that promotes Advocacy, Policy Change, Community Empowerment and seeks to “Disrupt and Dismantle” the Cradle to Prison Pipeline
- Restorative Justice Circles
- Black History – “Descendants of Kings and Queens”
- Voter Education and Engagement
- National Black Child Development Family Empowerment Program
Our organization is proud to be grassroots, family and community driven. Our team, including our Founder and CEO/Executive Director Cherie Craft, reflect the diversity of our communities and many are directly from the neighborhoods and populations that we serve. As a result, we have a unique level of credibility and trust with our families that we believe is the reason we are able to engage and retain the families who ordinarily would not participate voluntarily in programming, and whom other agencies have had difficulty engaging. Ms. Craft serves on Mayor Bowser’s Maternal Mortality Review Committee and was recently appointed to serve as the Early Childhood Content Specialist for the DC Department of Health’s Maternal Child Health Council. She also is a member of the NAACP, Urban League, National Black Child Development Institute, International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and also serves as senior faculty for the Institute for Family-Centered Care.