MECK Pre-K: Seven Years of Preparing Children for Success

A teacher with a group of pre-k students

MECK Pre-K is now accepting applications for the 2024-2025 school year, seven years after first enrolling students for the innovative program.  

MECK Pre-K offers high-quality education for all 4-year-old children residing in Mecklenburg County at no cost to their families. The program was developed to address the Board of County Commissioners’ Early Childhood Development priority, which pledges to expand services that promote healthy early childhood development and education from ages birth to 5 years.   

In fall of 2018, MECK Pre-K opened the doors to 33 classrooms with capacity for 600 students. By the fall of 2023, MECK Pre-K had grown to 106 classrooms and capacity for 1,890 students —a 215% increase. Applications have also increased by about 82% over the past five years. When registration closed last year, MECK Pre-K had received 2,697 eligible applications. For comparison, the total number of eligible applications for the 2019-2020 school year was 1,478.   

“We know that MECK Pre-K is making a significant difference on child development,” said Tim Gibbons, program director of early childhood initiatives for Mecklenburg County. “While MECK Pre-K can be transformative for students in our classrooms, the program aims to help children succeed in the long run. Our inaugural class is now in fourth grade. MECK Pre-K is working with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and an independent research team to evaluate the long-term impact of the program.”  

The top factor supporting development for children in an early childhood classroom is the quality and level of preparedness of the teacher. MECK Pre-K is a new “Beginning Teacher Support” program, recognized by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. This allows MECK Pre-K to enhance the work of veteran and previously licensed teachers, and work with early childhood educators who are early in their career. In housing its own teacher support program, MECK Pre-K can ensure a corps of well-prepared and highly qualified teachers in its classrooms, all holding state teaching licenses and mentoring the next generation of early childhood educators and MECK Pre-K team members.  

APPLY NOW: MECK Pre-K is open to all 4-year-old children in Mecklenburg County. Families can visit to apply. Those without internet access can apply in person or request a paper application. MECK Pre-K staff can be reached by email at Info@MeckPreK or by calling 704-943-9585. The child must turn four by Aug. 31, 2024. Classrooms are located in licensed child development centers and taught by licensed teachers and highly qualified assistant teachers.  

MECK Pre-K is administered by Smart Start of Mecklenburg County and funded by Mecklenburg County. Smart Start of Mecklenburg County mobilizes resources, forges partnerships, and supports families to improve early childhood health, education and development, and to ensure children are prepared for kindergarten. Learn more at  

For the media:Facts, figures, and resources about MECK Pre-K.