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.


The Success Equation supports policies that keep parents and children together and minimizes the isolation of immigrant communities. In the past year, there has been a groundswell of changes to immigration policy that have had serious consequences for our friends and neighbors. Find out about these changes and join Pisgah Legal Services immigration law experts for a lunch session to learn how changes to immigration policies and enforcement are affecting our neighbors.

Come out for this Lunch and Learn on Friday, March 23rd from 12:00 to1:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church 60 Church St. in Downtown Asheville. There is a suggested Donation of $10/person and lunch will be provided by Green Opportunities. Please RSVP to Nora Frank by March 16 at (828)210-3774 or


On June 2017, NC lawmakers passed a budget that ended the practice of automatically sending all 16- and 17-year-olds accused of misdemeanors and low-level felonies into the adult court system. The Success Equation, along with multiple state partners, advocated for this “Raise the Age” policy change. But now that this legislation has passed, it is still important to continue advocating for the juvenile justice system to ensure that youth

receive the services they need to be successful.

In response, the North Carolina Association of Community Alternatives for Youth (NCACAY) is offering an opportunity for the community to learn more about the new Raise the Age legislation. Deputy Secretary William Lassiter, along with others, will discuss Raise the Age legislation, best practice programming for older juveniles, use of local data for planning purposes, transition challenges, and proposed expansion funding for this emerging adult population.

Join the NCACAY on Friday, March 23 from 1 PM-4 PM at the First Baptist Church, 5 Oak Street in downtown Asheville. The event is free and registration is required, so register at


The WNC Social Justice Advocacy Guide is a new website where you can find resources and agencies that are addressing important social issues. If you are new to your involvement with social justice or if you are familiar with these issues but want to create cross-issue connections, then this website is “one-stop shopping” for social justice avenues.

Issue Areas include: Child & Family PovertyDisability RightsEarly Childhood Care & EducationElder JusticeEnvironmentHealthcareHomeless & HousingHunger,Immigration Rights, Income InequalityLGBTQ RightsPublic Education,Racial Justice,ViolenceVoting & DemocracyWomen’s Rights


The United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County and Children First/Communities in Schools have partnered to host learning opportunities around a series of topics that impact our community. These opportunities are free and open to the public. The current topic for discussion is Robert Putnam’s Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.  This New York Times bestseller is  “a passionate, urgent” (The New Yorker) examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone.
Wed. March 21: Discuss Chapter 3
Wed. April 4: Discuss Chapter 4
Wed. April 18: Discuss Chapter 5
Wed. May 2 :Discuss Chapter 6

Drop in on any dates you are able, regardless of whether you attended previously! Wednesday mornings 8:45-9:45 am in Conference Room 4 at the United Way Building at 50 S. French Broad Ave. Parking is available in the United Way lot. If you would like more information, please contact Jodi Ford at or call 828-620-9091.

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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