Smart Start, the Early Childhood Division of the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, was created in May 1999 to address the pressing needs of Georgia's youngest children and their families. With innovative state and local programs and outreach initiatives, Smart Start has developed and maintains strong commitments and partnerships with state agencies, child care providers, parents, training and technical assistance organizations, and government and business leaders to improve the quality of early care and education for all children ages birth through five. Through its programs and initiatives, Smart Start works to increase school readiness, with the aim of having every child ready to succeed in school by the time they enter kindergarten.

Mission
Smart Start Georgia is a statewide organization, focusing on Metropolitan Atlanta, partnering to improve the quality of care and education for all children ages birth through five by:

• Collaborating with State and Federal government and early learning experts in
   communities throughout Georgia.
•  Educating parents, caregivers, and the public on the critical need for quality
    early learning for all children; and,
•  Promoting lifetime learning for children, the early learning community and
    professionals to ensure greater achievement throughout a child's education
    and beyond.

Vision
Smart Start's vision is that every child in Metropolitan Atlanta will be ready to succeed in school and later in life.

Since its inception, Smart Start has successfully:
• 
Increased the number of centers accredited by the National Association
   for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) by more than 250 since 1999,
   enhancing the quality of early learning experiences for more than 25,000
   children. As of Sept 2008, there are only 287 NAEYC accredited centers in the
   state of Georgia.
•  Increased the knowledge of more than 13,000 child care teachers through
   professional development.
•  Added more than 3,500 high-quality child care spaces for those children at
   greatest risk in our community.
•  Provided training and technical assistance to more than 310 home-based
   child care programs and 625 child care centers.
•  Built over 200 outdoor learning environments through our playground initiative.
•  Reached, with it programs, over 250,000 children, their families and the
   communities in which they live.

 
Smart Start uses best-practice & research to inform their programs and initiatives:

Quality Matters -
3 and 4 year olds whom attend a high-quality preschool succeed at a higher rate in kindergarten and beyond........(National Institute for Early Education Research).

Literacy is Key -
Essential pre-literacy skills are oral language development, print awareness, and phonological awareness........(Research Foundation:  Scholastic Early Childhood Program).

Parent & Community Engagement makes a difference -
Families and communities play a critical role in helping children get ready for school........(National School Readiness Indicators Initiative).

Public Policy must be addressed -
Improving access to affordable quality child care, expanding pre-K to 3-year olds, and examining the economic benefits of child care are all important policy issues that need to be driven by best-and-promising practice.

Collaborating with Partners to increase Impact - Proactively seeking opportunities to work with those in, and outside, of the Early Childhood field to advance a common agenda.