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.


Award-winning author of the groundbreaking book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”,Michelle Alexander will deliver the keynote talk for UNC Asheville’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Week on January 18 at 7 p.m. in the Sherrill Center’s Kimmel Arena at UNCA. The lecture is free and open to the public. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Michelle Alexander’s best-selling book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” both crystalized and amplified public discussion about racism and civil rights, the war on drugs and the prison system. The New York Review of Books states: Now and then a book comes along that might in time touch the public and educatesocial commentators, policymakers, and politicians about a glaring wrong that we have been living with that we also somehow don’t know how to face.


The Asheville City Schools Foundation and UNC Ashevillewill host an exclusive speaking engagement featuring Nikole Hannah-Jones titled “Ending Racial Inequity in Our Schools: What Actually Works?” to benefit the Asheville City Schools Foundation on Wednesday, February 28 at 7:00 PM. at Lipinski Auditorium on UNCA campus. This event is ticketed at $25 for the event and $75 for event and reception.

To purchase tickets: 

Nikole Hannah-Jones is a National Magazine Award-winning Journalist, writing on modern day civil rights for the New York Times Magazine. Her widely read articles on segregated housing and schools, as well as her deeply personal reports on the black experience in America, expose how racial inequality is maintained through official policy. They also offer a compelling case for greater equity.


Join a community discussion hosted by the City of Asheville’s Blue Ribbon Committee around discrimination. Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences about how you think our community can address and create solutions around discrimination so that we have equal opportunities for all our residents.

The Blue Ribbon Committee is interested in hearing residents’ thoughts and/or reactions to the draft recommendations about a commission designed to focus on engaging community and strengthening relationships across the city. The committee’s vision for the commission is that it would offer a place to voice discrimination issues where being heard is valued. 

Jan. 24 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Shiloh Recreation Center, 121 Shiloh RoadA light dinner, child care and Spanish language interpretation will be available for participants.

The Blue Ribbon Committee will review and consider the community input received, integrate comments in the final recommendations and submit the final recommendations to City Council in February. To share the recommendations with the community, the City of Asheville will email, post on social media and share feedback on the Blue Ribbon Committee webpage. For more information, contact Jaime Matthews, Assistant to the City Manager, at 828-232-4541 or



Eight Asheville Redefines Transit (ART) bus routes added hours to their routes, thanks to additional funding approved by Asheville City and grassroots advocacy from non-profit Just Economics and their Transit Reform Campaign.

During the fall of 2017, City staff gathered input from riders and potential future riders at in-person meetings, through an online survey and through paper surveys that were available on the buses. That public input ended up being the most important factor in deciding where to add the expanded hours.

Changes Include:

  • Additional evening hours on the following routes: N, S2, S3, S4, S5, S6, W2, W5.
  • Additional daily trip at 11 a.m. Monday-Saturday on Route 170 to Black Mountain.
  • Sunday/holiday service on ALL routes.


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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