The Success Equation, an initiative of Children First/CIS, unites our community to reduce poverty through education, collaboration and public policy advocacy resulting in an environment where all children can thrive. Would you like to become more involved and engaged in helping to end child poverty in Buncombe County?

Below are quick opportunities to learn, share, and act.


Join Pisgah Legal’s Housing and Community Economic Developmentteams for a lunch session to learn more about the housing crisis and landlord/tenant law. They will share ways that Pisgah Legal staff and volunteers are affecting change and impacting lives, and how you can plug in!

Join the discussion on February 27th, 2018 from 12 – 1:30 pm in Tuton Hall at Trinity Episcopal Church (60 Church Street in downtown Asheville). Suggested Donation is $10/person.  Lunch from Green Opportunities will be provided. Space is limited, so please RSVP to Nora Frank by February 20th at


Watch Video of Michelle Alexander Keynote discussion: Award-winning author of the groundbreaking book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”, Michelle Alexander delivered the keynote talk for UNC Asheville’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Week. The presentation was heavily attended, but if you were unable to attend the live discussion, then the entire presentation is now available HERE.

Attend A-B Tech Community Voices Lecture Series: A-B Tech has launched a Community Voices lectures series that showcases the history of the black community in Asheville and Buncombe County. Community organizer, filmmaker and spoken-word artist, Nicole Townsend, will discuss colorism and its implications for the African American community on Wednesday, February 28 at 3 PM in the Ferguson Auditorium on the campus of A-B Tech (340 Victoria Road in Asheville). All presentations are free and open to the public.

Continue the Conversation on African-American History in our community:  Last summer the Buncombe County Community Engagement Team created a four-part Lunch and Learn series on African-American History. The Community Engagement Team and Pack Library invite everyone to attend to watch the videos of the previous presentations and afterward continue the conversation with special guest speakers. These events are free and open to the public in the Lord Auditorium at Pack Memorial Library. You are welcome to bring your own lunch. For more info visit

  • Thursday, Feb. 22, noon – 1:30 p.m. The Historical Effects of Redlining and Gentrification Video and Discussion
  • Thursday, Feb. 15, noon – 1:30 p.m. The Wage Gap and Historical Wealth Disparities Video and Discussion


1 in 4 local children experience food insecurity, so local non-profits have created mobile markets to bring healthy food, nutritional education and cooking lessons to high-need communities.

  • The YMCA’s Healthy Living Mobile Kitchen (HLMK) is a remodeled 72-passenger school bus that functions as a nutrition education and food assistance outreach hub. HLMK serves Buncombe, McDowell, and Henderson counties, acting as the hands that reach out to families that the YMCA food pantry cannot serve. The bus has seating for 30, a full service kitchen, and enables the Y team to offer free produce distributions and nutrition education.  YMCA’s mobile distributions often include a cooking demonstration or a tasting as well as free recipe cards and other information about eating healthfully and eating together. Check out their schedule HERE.
  • Bounty and Soul’s Produce to the People delivers healthy food and wellness resources into local communities. They operate five weekly markets and each is accompanied by wellness and nutrition program components. Anyone and everyone who believes they would benefit from the healthy food and education resources is welcome to participate in these mobile markets. There is no cost for the food or the other resources. Produce to the People markets are distributing 7,500 pounds of food and reaching nearly 700 individuals every week. Find out their delivery schedule HERE.



“Trauma” is a heavy and haunting word. For many Americans, it conjures images of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The emotional toll from those wars made headlines and forced a healthcare reckoning at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician, would like to see a similar reckoning in every doctor’s office, health clinic and classroom in America — for children who have experienced trauma much closer to home.

Burke Harris is the founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco. She’s spent much of her career trying to spread awareness about the dangers of childhood toxic stress. Her 2014 TED talk on the subject has more than 3.5 million views where she says “Two-thirds of Americans are exposed to extreme stress in childhood, things like divorce, a death in the family or a caregiver’s substance abuse. And this early adversity, if experienced in high enough doses, ‘literally gets under our skin, changing people in ways that can endure in their bodies for decades.’

Burke Harris writes in her new book, The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity: “Trauma can tip a child’s developmental trajectory and affect physiology. It can trigger chronic inflammation and hormonal changes that can last a lifetime. It can alter the way DNA is read and how cells replicate, and it can dramatically increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes — even Alzheimer’s.” Read or Listen to the full interview HERE.


Find out how you can get even more involved
in creating community where all children can thrive!

  • Sign up for our Action Alerts for up-to-the-minute alerts on important policy decisions and ways you can make your voice count for kids!
  • Follow us on our Success Equation Facebook page and on Twitter @CFCISAdvocacy to receive information and updates on how you can help create a community where all children can thrive.
  • Check out our Local, State and Federal Advocacy Tool-kits to guide you in engaging with our elected officials.
  • Volunteer to participate in monthly phone banking to inform our neighbors on important issues impacting children and families. Contact Jodi Ford at 828-620-9091



The Need

No child chooses to be born into poverty. All children deserve to be well cared for, healthy, safe, and educated so they have opportunities for success in the future. Unfortunately, children in poverty usually experience poorer health, safety, and education, as well as greater levels of toxic stress, than children from families with more money. In Buncombe County, right now 1 in 4 children in our county is living in poverty.

Children from low-income families are more likely to come to school behind, have undiagnosed learning disabilities, score lower on academic achievement tests, and drop out of school.  They have less access to adequate health care and are 6 times as likely to live in homes without enough food, in high-crime neighborhoods.

Children from low-income families are also more likely to experience parental joblessness, substance abuse, homelessness, and/or absence of a parent – leading to toxic stress levels that brain research shows hardwires young children’s brains and slows cognitive and emotional development.


History of the Success Equation

bookIn 2010, Children First/CIS launched a listening project to document the experience of families facing poverty in Buncombe County. 113 low-income people,  including teen and Latina mothers, participated in focus groups and one-on-one interviews. Additionally, we interviewed service providers that work with low-income families. Interview participants represented a wide geographic range: from public housing in the city, the Emma community, south Asheville, east Asheville, and Barnardsville.

Children First/CIS presented the issues raised by the listening session to a broader community summit for action ideas. In May 2011, Children First/CIS hosted a two-day appreciative inquiry summit attended by 120 participants representing local organizations, community leaders, low-income individuals and interested community members.  Out of this summit, an Action Plan was created and committees formed.

The current  Success Equation Action Plan includes emphasis in the three key focus areas identified from interviews and at the summit: Early Childhood Development  •  Child &Family Supports  •  Family Economic Stability


Our Roles

The Success Equation unites our community to alleviate the root causes of child poverty. We do this in Buncombe County through the following roles:

  •  Educator – reporting poverty data, messaging about poverty’s impact, and inspiring broader dialogue focused on solutions.
  • Advocate – building a local advocacy voice supportive of public policy and investment in effective programs that meet children’s basic needs and place them on a path to success.
  • Convener – connecting individuals, businesses, government, schools, faith communities, and organizations to enhance promising strategies, collaborations, and creative/provocative ideas.


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