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.


Municipal elections are in full swing and early voting has already begun. If you live in Black Mountain, Woodfin, Weaverville, or Asheville, make sure you’re an informed voter. Below are a list of upcoming forums for Asheville municipal candidates. You can also check out a variety of resources for voting at our website. For Asheville voters, pick up a hard copy of the Candidates Guide at the Children First/CIS office on 50 S. French Broad Ave, Suite 246- they are stacked outside of our door so come by before, during or after office hours.  If you’re not registered to vote, you can still do same day early voting and registration. This is only available at early voting locations. If you vote on Election Day, you must already be registered to vote.


  • November 1, 6 PM – 7 PM @ Pack Memorial Library. Asheville Municipal Candidates. Presented by League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County.
  • November 2, 6 PM @ Stephens Lee Community Center (30 George Washington Carver Ave) . Asheville Municipal Candidates. Presented by NAACP
  • November 3, 7 AM @ UNCA. Asheville Municipal Candidates. presented by Independent Business Owners


Health care for our most vulnerable citizens is hanging in the balance. Funding for the State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) –known as NC Health Choice in North Carolina and for Community Health Centers ended on September 30, with no decisions from Congress about extending funding.

NC Health Choice, Medicaid and Community Health Centers such as the Western North Carolina Community Health Services (aka Minnie Jones Center) are on the front lines of providing access to healthcare for our children and uninsured adults-many that are parents.

Thanks in large part to Medicaid and NC Health Choice, a historic high of 96% NC children receive health insurance coverage, including 27,000 children living here in Buncombe County.

The projected loss of $84 million in federal funding to North Carolina Community Health Centers will mean that more than 115,0000  patients will lose access to care.

Now is the time to let your representatives know that you support these two vital programs. Include both issues in the same phone call. All you have to say is “I support the Hatch-Wyden proposal to protect children’s health insurance by funding CHIP and I support funding for Community Health Centers .”

Senator Tillis: (202) 224-6342
Senator Burr: (202) 224-3154
Rep Mark Meadows: (202) 225-6401
Rep Patrick McHenry: (202) 225-2576

Have phone call anxiety? Don’t let that stop you from being an advocate. Your calls will be answered by staff or voicemail and you will literally be leaving a message – not having to debate the issues or answer questions. Make sure your identify yourself and that you’re calling from NC.


The City of Asheville invites everyone to participate in two community workshops as part of its recently announced Transit Master Plan update. A survey will also be available for residents who can’t make it to the workshops. Future public engagement activities will include discussion group workshops with various stakeholder groups, meetings with Asheville Redefines Transit (ART) staff and citizen advisory boards, and final public meetings to receive feedback on the Draft Plan.

The Transit Master Plan will shape how and where transit service will be provided by ART service. It’s designed to ensure safe, convenient and accessible public transportation for all residents, workers and visitors to the Asheville area.

The workshop schedule:
6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Edington Career & Education Center133 Livingston St.
6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Kairos West Community Center604 Haywood Road.

City will launch a survey on Open City Hall Asheville to get rider and resident input on how to improve ART bus service. Last developed in 2009 and adopted in 2010, an updated plan will provide measurable goals and detailed strategies for improving transit throughout the City. The plan will:

  • Assess existing transit services;
  • Review ART’s current operating environment;
  • Evaluate current and future mobility needs; and
  • Determine whether and how existing bus transit services can be adjusted to provide improved service levels throughout the City.

The plan is expected to be completed by summer 2018. For more information on Asheville’s Transit Master Plan and to get involved, please visit the Transit Master Plan project page


The Summer Food Service Program grew in response to the risk of summer food insecurity experienced by children who are on the free and reduced meal program during the school year. Over half of Buncombe County students are on the free and reduced meal program and are at risk of experiencing hunger during the summer months. Last summer, the program served 85,000 meals to children in Buncombe County.

Sign our “Thank You” petition to Buncombe County School Board for their continued investment in the Summer Meals Program. It’s never too late to say thanks to the school board for fighting childhood hunger and keep it forefront as they begin planning ahead for next summer. Click here to add your thanks!


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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