Harold Rayford hopes to narrow achievement gap by addressing early childhood developme

Ogechi Emechebe:

The achievement gap between students of color and their white counterparts in Dane County has been an area of concern for the past several years. In addition to what the Madison School District is doing to try and eliminate the gap, a local grassroots organization is hoping to reduce the achievement gap before kids start kindergarten.

Harold Rayford, pastor of The Faith Place Church in Sun Prairie and President of the African American Council of Churches, will launch the 1800 Days initiative on Tuesday, March 29, at 6 p.m. at the Central Madison Public Library.

1800 Days is a nonprofit organization focusing on a child’s first five years of life where significant intellectual development takes place, said Rayford. The emphasis will be on early childhood development so children can be academically and intellectually equipped to start kindergarten and stay on track once in school.

Rayford said the idea came about after he volunteered as an assistant librarian in a local middle school for about four years. He said he initially began the role to help teachers interact with minority students, but over time he realized the achievement gap was an issue that needed participation from everyone in the community, including minority groups.