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Community Involvement & In the News

As an nonprofit organization, we understand that getting involved in our community benefits all those involved. We strive to become an integral part of the lives of not only the children and families that we serve, but our communities as a whole.

Below are just a few of our news items for you to view.


CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — Families First has been nurturing bilingual kids for more than ten years.

Aurora Swain, founder and the 2017 National Parent Educator of the Year says Families First offers at-risk children and families around Cabarrus County and Greater Charlotte individualized lessons for kids ahead of Kindergarten both in-class and at home.

Watch the report here at WCNC



   Families First in Cabarrus County Receives $10,000 Grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to support the whole Family through Literacy

Concord, NC – June 22, 2022 – The Dollar General Literacy Foundation recently awarded Families First in Cabarrus County a $10,000 grant to support the whole Family through Literacy. This local grant is part of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation’s recent award of $10.5 million donation to support summer, family, and adult literacy programs, representing the organization’s largest one-day grant donation in its 29-year history.

“When I enrolled my daughter in Families First's Bilingual Preschool, I didn't know, but in a year I would pass my GED and obtain my Citizenship with their help! My daughter is so proud of her mom and tells everyone! My relationship and conversation with her are about school and dreams coming true now!”

We use parenting, home-visiting, and early childhood programs to significantly improve school readiness, family engagement, and economic mobility in low-income and predominantly Hispanic and Black neighborhoods. This grant funds a comprehensive literacy approach to break cycles of poverty!

This grant helps us serve children and their families in two bilingual preschools, GED, ESL, and tutoring classes, and, visit more than 25 families (ages 18-36 months) twice weekly in their homes with a book in hand for them to keep (for 48 weeks!), so children access preschool ready to play and learn!

"For nearly 30 years, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has been proud to invest in literacy and education programs in our hometown communities," said Denine Torr, executive director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. "The recent and significant shifts in the educational landscape have made the Foundation’s mission more critically important. As we work to create access to high-quality instruction for all individuals, we share our gratitude for the educators who are working to uplift and empower others. We hope these funds will have a meaningful impact on students and teachers across the country and look forward to seeing the positive impact they have on learners.”

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation supports organizations that increase access to educational programming, stimulate and enable innovation in the delivery of educational instruction and inspire a love of reading. Each year, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation awards funds to nonprofit organizations, schools, and libraries within a 15-mile radius of a Dollar General store or distribution center to support adult, family, summer, and youth literacy programs. The Foundation also offers a student referral program for individuals interested in learning how to read, speak English, or prepare for the high school equivalency exam. Referrals to a local organization that provides free literacy services are available online here or through referral cards found in the Learn to Read brochures that are available at the cash register of every Dollar General store.

About Families First in Cabarrus County
Our mission is to use education, parenting, and early childhood programs to nurture children, empower parents, and strengthen whole families to flourish for generations. Families First's trusted reach in marginalized neighborhoods furthest from opportunities began in the home and is a whole family approach that works.

About the Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is proud to support initiatives that help others improve their lives through literacy and education. Since 1993, the Foundation has awarded more than $216 million in grants, helping more than 15.4 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. Cal Turner, Jr. founded the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to honor his grandfather and Dollar General’s co-founder, J.L. Turner, who was functionally illiterate having dropped out of school in the third grade to support his family. The Foundation aims to provide support to schools, libraries and nonprofit organizations that seek to improve adult, summer, youth and family literacy initiatives. To learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, visit www.dgliteracy.org.


PRESS RELEASE:  June 16, 2021

Smith Reynolds Foundation Announces Community Progress Fund Grant Awards

Trustees award grants totaling $1.3 million to 32 organizations across the state. 

Winston-Salem, NC (June 17, 2021) – The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is pleased to announce that in May 2021, Trustees awarded Community Progress Fund grants totaling $1.3 million to 32 organizations across North Carolina.

Families First in Cabarrus County awarded two-year grant

to grow its ParentChild+ program addressing gaps in services for 2-3-year-olds working with caregiver/child together in the home. ZSR funding will support the program's growth into several new communities in Cabarrus County, with an overall goal of reaching 50 families.

"This model allows our Early Learning Specialists to work with the whole family for two years weekly (family forever!), says Aurora Swain, Director of Operations.

What's more, families preempt achievement gaps, break poverty cycles, build permanent learning libraries, connect with the community, and children graduate accessing Families First Immersion Preschools, ready.  

"'Being in the home' is the heartbeat of Families First," Executive Director Spencer Swain added, "We cannot thank the foundation enough for the weight of impact this will have. The outcomes are generational changes for many families."


Visit the Foundation’s Community Progress Fund: https://www.zsr.org/community-progress.


RELEASE:    April 15, 2021

Families First in Cabarrus County and Feeding Kannapolis Hunger  - Receive Grant from No Kid Hungry to decrease food insecurity in young children

Through these new partnerships and support, we will provide weekly 25-50lb boxes of fresh food and vouchers – for 48 straight weeks to 100s of families. Boxes are distributed at our facilities and neighborhood networks, packaged and supplied by Feeding Kannapolis Hunger's resource channels!

Every family will have nutritious weekend meals, including rural Hispanic food deserts in two neighboring counties, Rowan and Mecklenburg, enriching our mission and expanding Feeding Kannapolis Hunger, to strengthen the whole family. Families First is a model that works with the whole family, starting with children ages 0-8 years old and their parents. Our heartbeat is weekly home-visiting and two 5-star immersion preschools. 

"We are most excited to remove the wearying distraction of persistent hunger in homes and see healthier and happier children,” says Aurora Swain, Director of Operations. "Most of our families are families of color and feeling the effects of hunger and malnutrition at a disproportionate rate due to the pandemic." This collaborative effort with No Kid Hungry, Feeding Kannapolis Hunger, and volunteers will relieve hunger tensions, opening the door for healthier relationships, learning and development

About No Kid Hungry 

No child should go hungry in America. But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, 1 in 6 kids could face hunger this year. No Kid Hungry is working to end childhood hunger by helping launch and improve programs that give all kids the healthy food they need to thrive. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization committed to ending hunger and poverty. 

Families First in Cabarrus County

Our mission is to nurture children, empower parents, and strengthen families so they flourish for generations. We accomplish bold visions to break cycles of poverty by implementing programs build for people and meeting families where they are. We offer multiple programs including a nationally recognized home-visiting family and parenting development program; by operating two, five-star immersion preschool locations with parent workforce development; a 16 week addiction programs where whole families heal together; and weekly English as a Second Language (ESL), General Education Diploma (GED), and tutoring classes. All of our programs are offered in English and Spanish.



While donations from the people at Families First may not be a grant worth thousands of dollars from the state, they are worth so much more than their monetary value.

“I don’t have a word to describe it besides ‘Family,’” Swain said. “When a family’s in trouble, families are there to help each other out, and while we’re helping out working with (less fortunate) families, here they are calling us and saying, ‘Hey, we’d like to make a donation.’”


February 24, 2020 | Independent Tribune

It was a packed house at All Saints Episcopal Church in Concord on Friday as the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra performed for families and children around the area. Families First in Cabarrus County wanted children to be able to see such a wonderful show and they put it on seamlessly in the Fellowship Hall as hardly a seat was empty.

It’s kind of hard to believe there was even some fear barely a person would show up just 24 hours before.

There was hardly an empty seat in the Fellowship Hall at All Saints Episcopal Church, and it was not just a full house with an audience, it was an engaged one as children were dancing along and parents were even seen keeping pace with the show.


Read (CLICK HERE) about our awesome staff taking
advantage of T.E.A.C.H. Scholarships 

Are you working in a North Carolina licensed child care facility unwilling to sponsor employees on a comprehensive T.E.A.C.H. scholarship? Help is still within reach! Please check out the Working Scholars scholarship. This scholarship is for use in the state of North Carolina only and should not be replicated.

Starting in Fall 2018, UNC-Greensboro will be offering the brand new Leadership in Infant and Toddler Learning (LITL) Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program. In support of this program, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® North Carolina is now offering a new scholarship for those working with Infant and/or Toddler children and/or on behalf of their teachers.


Charlotte symphony brings music to local preschool

August 8, 2018 | Erin Weeks, Independent Tribune

From the minute the first string struck to the final, quavering note, the audience sat, transfixed. Then, almost as one, the dozens of children swarmed the musicians with enthusiasm, exploring up close something they had never seen before in their lives: the symphony.

Charlotte Symphony Orchestra performed for about 80 families from Families First bilingual early childhood education programs in Cabarrus County in late April. The free concert was part of the symphony’s community outreach program and one of the first geared toward preschool children.


Families First looks to future, growth

January 24, 2018  |  Erin Weeks, Independent Tribune

Five new pre-schools in five years might appear a bit ambitious—and it is, Spencer Swain of Families First said. But when the mandate is help students pass kindergarten so they have a chance at a better life, no goal seems too lofty.

Families First is a Cabarrus County nonprofit that seeks to educate the entire family. Through preschools, in-home visits, tutoring and adult classes, the organization focuses specifically on immigrant and Hispanic families, trying to set not only the children but the parents up for success long-term.

Spencer Swain and his wife, Aurora, hope to take their mission to the next level and reach even more families. As part of that effort, they applied for the SEED20 in Charlotte last year, an event that chooses 20 area nonprofits to go through a training process. Ten finalists give a brief on-stage pitch to an audience, including a panel of judges, which awards first, second and third prize cash awards of up to $20,000.

Though Families First didn’t win an official prize, the group did meet up with an investor interested in helping them meet the five-year plan. A presenting sponsor from the Foundation of the Carolinas Reemprise Fund approached Aurora Swain after her presentation for SEED20 last spring and scheduled a meeting to talk about her plans.


Local educator wins national award

January 3, 2018  |  Erin Weeks, Independent Tribune

Last year was a big one for a little bilingual preschool and family education nonprofit in Cabarrus County—little in size, at least, though not in mission.

Families First has set big plans in motion, opening a second preschool over the summer and winning national awards to boot. Director of Operations and founder Aurora Swain recently earned the National Parent Educator of the Year for her efforts to reach the entire family in the population she serves.

“It was really amazing and humbling,” Spencer Swain, Aurora’s husband and executive director of Families First, said. “More than that, I think it just brings for Cabarrus County and North Carolina the strength of an in-home visiting program to get kids ready for kindergarten and parents ready for kindergarten.”


Seed20 video: Families First in Cabarrus Countyh

September 1, 2017

Congratulations for 2017 Parent Educators of the Year

November 30, 2017

Pictured left to right: Constance Gully, Aurora Swain, Amy Hoffman, Amanda Johnson, Patricia Kempthorne, PJ West, Kerry Caverly and Karen Shanoski

SEED20 ON STAGE: Families First in Cabarrus County

November 18, 2017


November 16, 2017

Earlier this year, Aurora Swain of Families First in Cabarrus County pitched her nonprofit’s innovative ideas to an audience of over 900 people during Social Venture Partners’ SEED20 OnStage. Aurora’s supporters filled up the front row of Knight Theater to cheer her on as she represented Families First and the families she helps every day.

“I will never forget the first day when parents struggled to sign their names and even hold a pen,” Aurora said during her pitch. “You see, in Latin American countries education is not mandatory like in the USA. Obviously they couldn’t read or write. We resolved the problem by opening a school for adults, Monday – Saturday. I promise there is nothing more inspirational than this, seeing the power and freedom adults gain when learning how to read and write. We are educating the whole family.

Aurora’s pitch helped Families First gain support from the Charlotte-based Reemprise Fund, who recently awarded the Cabarrus County nonprofit a grant in the amount of $25,125. The grant helped them hire a consultant with Amy Clinton & Associates to help them build capacity and remain organizationally stable in attaining their vision of 5 schools in 5 years.

Families First, a direct service provider for the Cabarrus Partnership for Children, provides early childhood education and free parenting programs for parents who are struggling with parenting, poverty, addictions, and/or living linguistically isolated and their children. They operate an in-home visiting program utilizing the best practice Parents as Teachers model, the 5-star Cabarrus Bilingual Preschool, and support groups, with the goal of finding families who need assistance, give them a voice, and provide support to ensure success at home, school, and life.

Local nonprofit takes early education to next level

November 7, 2017

Independent Tribune

Much of childhood education hones in on developing the whole child.

But at Families First, that emphasis envelops the entire family.

“A lot of organizations focus on just the kids, which is great,” Aurora Swain, co-founder of Families First, said. “But if you don’t have the parents involved or you leave the parents behind, then you’re going to hit a wall. You’re going to hit a point where if my mom can’t help or my dad, who will?

“So the fact is we are bringing everybody with us. We’re not leaving anybody behind. I’m talking about English; I’m talking about learning how to read or write; I’m talking even social and emotional. We’re preparing our parents with other problems, celebrating families.”

That innovative approach to preschool caught the attention of the SEED20 competition in Charlotte, a competition among nonprofits that are positively impacting their communities. And while Families First didn’t leave with the grand prize, the organization walked away with some great experience and exposure, to boot.

Click here to read the full article.

WBTV - Through Their Eyes: A father's fight

November 7, 2017  |  WBTV

One man helping change everything, all for his little girl.

Click the image below to view the video of this amazing story.

Local nonprofit takes early education to next level

April 26, 2017  |  Erin Weeks, Independent Tribune

Much of childhood education hones in on developing the whole child.

But at Families First, that emphasis envelops the entire family.

“A lot of organizations focus on just the kids, which is great,” Aurora Swain, co-founder of Families First, said. “But if you don’t have the parents involved or you leave the parents behind, then you’re going to hit a wall. You’re going to hit a point where if my mom can’t help or my dad, who will?

“So the fact is we are bringing everybody with us. We’re not leaving anybody behind. I’m talking about English; I’m talking about learning how to read or write; I’m talking even social and emotional. We’re preparing our parents with other problems, celebrating families.”


Local preschool a SEED20 finalist

March 24, 2017  |  Independent Tribune

Families First, a bilingual preschool in Cabarrus County, is one of 10 finalists for the SEED20 OnStage competition, which gives out more than $45,000 in cash prizes.

Aurora Swain, director of operations at Families First, will participate in an on-stage competition Monday, March 27, at the Belk Blumenthal Center in Charlotte where the 10 finalists present fast-paced three-minute pitches in front of a live audience.


Putting Families First: A Local Partner

Cabarrus Partnership for Children

As part of our mission to better the lives of children in the community, we’ve teamed up with Families First in Cabarrus County, a local nonprofit organization serving at-risk children and families, to help provide children and their parents with needed resources they need to improve their lives both at home and in school.

Founded in July, 2014 by Spencer and Aurora Swain, FFCC works to make a positive impact in the lives of Cabarrus County children by implementing three separate programs aimed at improving early childhood development. Programs include Parents as Teachers, Celebrating Families, and Cabarrus Bilingual Preschool, each one fully offered in both English and Spanish.


Local nonprofit nominated for regional award

December 6, 2016  |  Independent Tribune

Families First in Cabarrus County, a local nonprofit, is a finalist for Charlotte’s Seed20 award.

The organization includes the Cabarrus Bilingual Preschool, PAT and Celebrating Families

Each year, Seed20 accepts a class of local nonprofits and hosts an educational evening where each nonprofit does a three-minute pitch. The organizations receive training, coaching, feedback and mentoring over the two months prior, working on effectively telling their story.

Seed20 selects 10 nonprofits for the final pitch, and Families First was one of them.


'Buzz' Word Spelling Bee fundraiser helps support learning literacy to change lives

September 6, 2016  |  Michael Knox, Independent Tribune

Rosita Rivera works third shift with a cleaning crew, and her shift runs from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. But when her shift is finished, Rivera doesn’t race home to go to bed. Instead, she fights to stay awake so she can pick up her friends to head to class to learn English.

Rivera moved from Guatemala to America in 1995 after her husband came here and over the years relied on her daughter to translate for her. Now, she wants to learn English herself rather than rely on a translator. She got her chance thanks to the Cabarrus Literacy Council.

Rivera was among seven adult students involved in Cabarrus Literacy Council’s first group class for English as a Second Language, which was hosted at the Cabarrus Bilingual Preschool at 985 Central Dr NW, Concord.

Cabarrus Bilingual School is a division of the Families First non-profit, developed by Aurora Swain and her husband, Spencer Swain, with their site used to host the group classes offered by Cabarrus Literacy Council.


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Families First Cabarrus County

Families First

985 Central Drive NW
Concord, North Carolina 28027


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