What Matters: Our Kids

October 14, 2016

Nearly 600 dedicated people joined us for the 2017 What Matters Community Luncheon: Our Kids on Wednesday, April 26 at the Raleigh Convention Center to learn more about the kids in our region, what barriers stand in their way to a successful future, and what we can do – together – to change the statistics for them, and ensure that every child has the opportunity to thrive.

A Snapshot: Highlights from the Event

  • We began the day with four sold-out opening sessions led by issue area experts focused on literacy, advocacy, and learning about who the children in our region are and what they need to succeed. 
  • We honored Dr. Phail Wynn, Jr. and Easter Maynard with two philanthropic awards, both to standing ovations, for their dedication to our community. We presented Bridge Builders with the annual nonprofit Innovation Award for their work with refugees in Orange County.
  • Our President and CEO, Lori O’Keefe reminded us that while policies, funding, and methodology do make up a portion of our kids not reading on grade-level, there are structures in place and other significant barriers standing in the way of our kids and their access to education – and we must learn more about them, and address them.
  • We heard from keynote speaker Sonia Manzano, of Sesame Street fame, as she talked about her own struggles as a child, how poverty relates to literacy, and what she thinks we can do in our community to help jump this hurdle together. She made us laugh, cry, and inspired us to action.
  • We left the room ready to join together, to rally together around our kids, and turn our talk into action.


  • Inspired by the data Lori O’Keefe shared in her remarks, and how other factors we may not often think about are significantly impacting our region’s children as they prepare to learn? Review, print, and share this excerpt from Lori’s address.
  • Take a minute to look through some of our photos from the day, and feel free to tag them, and share them with your friends!
  • Learn about what we are doing with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading locally, and who we are partnering with here and here, and get involved with us.
  • Read this recap story about the luncheon and the opening sessions, and share it with your friends who couldn’t be there.

What’s Next? What can YOU do?

  • Learn. Take time to learn about and understand the issues surrounding access to opportunity in education, and who our kids are.
  • Share. Spread what you learn, in your circles and more widely. Be an advocate for our kids.
  • Connect. Work with the organizations directly addressing literacy in our community through their involvement in the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Give your time, talent, and treasure.

Let’s work together and take this a step further, beyond personal interests, to learn more about how we can ensure the success of every child in our community.  This is What Matters.  None of these challenges can be solved alone, by one person or one organization, and nothing will be solved overnight. But we believe that we can do it together. Refer to your bookmark. Use us as a resource. And be ready when we come to you.

We can change the future for our kids. But we must choose to do that. Let’s make that choice together.

Thank You

Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Wells Fargo, our Innovation Award sponsor, American Underground, and our media sponsor, WUNC for your constant dedication to this work and our community. Thank you as well to our host committee, our community investors, and our issue area experts for their hard work and support of our kids. And thank you to Kidznotes for their heartwarming performance before lunch.




Don’t forget to mark your calendars for What Matters: 2018 on Tuesday, April 24, 2018!  See you there!