Smart from the Start Visits State House: Family Support, Community Engagement and School Readiness

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State Rep. Liz Malia (11th Suffolk) met with Smart from the Start leaders at the State House (L-R): Lucy Cornier, President of BHA’s South Street Tenant Taskforce; Cherie Craft, Smart’s Founding Executive Director; State Rep. Liz Malia; and Carol Miranda, Program Coordinator for the Jamaica Plain site (includes Bromley Heath and South Street BHA developments).

This week state Rep. Liz Malia, D-Jamaica Plain, welcomed leaders from Smart from the Start, a family support, community engagement and school readiness non-profit organization, to discuss their work to address the academic achievement gap among young children living in the lowest income families and communities.

Smart from the Start empowers parents and caregivers in underserved communities with the tools, resources and support they need to break cycles of chronic school underachievement and generational poverty. Specifically, they provide unique and innovative programs, like Address the Stress, to break cycles of youth violence, chronic poverty and hopelessness, substance abuse, depression and undiagnosed and untreated mental and physical health conditions.

They facilitate 22 sites in the seven urban communities across the City of Boston, and in seven short years expanded from three pilot communities of Charlestown, Mattapan and Roslindale to include the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, Lower Roxbury and the South End. With the help of community leaders and public officials, Smart from the Start is hoping to bring the program to all of Boston's low-income housing developments.

Initiated with the support of late Boston Mayor Menino, Smart from the Start was launched in 2008 as a public/private partnership with the City of Boston. After four years of growth and success, in 2012 they became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. They still enjoy a strong partnership with the City of Boston, Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) and the Boston Housing Authority (BHA), who remain among their biggest collaborators and providers of in-kind support. For more information about their programs, visit: