Foundation First is a partnership of over 150 public and private agencies, businesses and individuals working toward a common vision: children arrive at school healthy and prepared to succeed in school and in life. Serving Planning District 16, which includes the City of Manassas, Manassas Park, Fredericksburg and the Counties of Loudoun, Culpeper, Fauquier, Prince William, Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, Stafford and Culpeper, Foundation First implements long-term strategies for improving school readiness for all young children, birth to five.
Foundation First (previously known as Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area) began as Success By 6 through the Rappahannock United Way (RUW) in 2001, focusing on early literacy. It grew into a regional coalition called the Rappahannock Area Success By 6 Early Childhood Coalition in March of 2006 with the formation of a Steering Committee.
In May of 2007, the Coalition received a planning grant from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF). The planning grant was used to strengthen the Coalition’s organizational infrastructure by funding a part-time Coalition Manager; enhance existing and develop additional relationships with business leaders, elected officials, and community leaders; develop a formal coalition structure; create a strategic plan; and build support for additional public-private financial partnerships.
In 2008, Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area (SBRA) formed a Leadership Council and developed its vision, mission, and goals. A Planning Grant from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF) enabled Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area to formalize and strengthen its organizational structure.
In June 2010, Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area was awarded a Getting Ready II grant. With this VECF grant, SBRA funded two part-time positions, continued with systems-building efforts, and worked on implementing two identified early childhood strategies: the Virginia Star Quality Initiative (now Virginia Quality)and the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. The VECF Getting Ready II grant required a local match that was met with funds from an Office of Early Childhood Development (OECD) grant and community investors, including McQ Inc, Millennium Engineering and Integration Company, The PNC Foundation, Fredericksburg Parent & Family Magazine, SimVentions, Inc. and Rappahannock United Way. VECF grants have enabled SBRA to continue building community support and public awareness and begin the implementation of program initiatives.
A third early childhood strategy, Al’s Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices, was being implemented from funds from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY).
During this grant cycle, SBRA received approval of its tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, effective December 17, 2010. The Virginia Early Childhood Foundation helped Foundation First secure the pro bono services of an attorney specializing in tax-exempt organizations and completed the 501(c)(3) requirements.
Additionally, SBRA successfully and unanimously transitioned its Leadership Council to a Board of Directors in February 2011 and established the infrastructure necessary for board governance. The newly formed SBRA Board of Directors adopted its Articles of Incorporation, By-laws and Conflict of Interest Policy; established board terms; and formed Executive, Finance, and Public Engagement Committees for governance and oversight.
The Board authorized its approval to complete and file a 1023 Form: Application for Recognition of Exemption with the IRS and authorized approval to secure Directors’ & Officers’ Insurance. The 1023 Form was filed with the IRS in March 2011.
With a new name, logo design, and branding, Smart Beginnings Rappahannock officially becomes Foundation first in January of 2023. We’re excited to continue serving the community and expanding our Virginia services and initiatives under the new name of Foundation First.