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AC4Ed is a nonprofit provider of federally funded Early Head Start, Head Start, as well as state and county funded Pre-Kindergarten programs administered locally by Smart Start of Mecklenburg County and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. These programs provide high-quality early education programs taught by teachers in locations across the Charlotte area.  

The goals of the Head Start model recognize that early learning and development, health, and family well-being, in conjunction with meaningful family engagement, are key to student success in school and life. 

Our programs ensure that every child in our care has the tools and resources necessary to succeed. From creative play, structured lessons, and outdoor physical activity, to receiving nutritionally balanced dietitian approved meals and frequent screenings and assessments, all children are given the chance to rise to and exceed their individual best.  

To ensure the best possible start for children and families, support is provided for any identified needs, including therapy for physical and developmental delays, access to medical or dental services, and connections to other services in the community to help with housing, employment and financial stability needs. Each family works with a dedicated family support professional to develop individual goals and make needed connections with resources in the community that can help remove any barriers and give them the best chance at self-sufficiency.  

Head Start and Pre-Kindergarten are provided at no-cost to eligible families. Eligibility is determined by a number of factors, including family size and income, in addition to other qualifying indicators. Families receiving assistance and those experiencing homelessness are categorically eligible. Selection criteria can be viewed here

The first step in applying for Head Start is to submit a preapplication. Once submitted, an Intake Specialist will contact you to begin the process of determining eligibility.  Click here to begin your preapplication

For more information on NC Pre-K or Meck Pre-K click the links below.

NC Pre-K

Meck Pre-K


The Head Start Preapplication Process

Gather Documents

Have your proof of identification or driver's license, proof of residence, and your scholar's birth certificate ready. 

Submit Preapplication 

Once you've gathered and double-checked all the necessary documents, complete and submit your preapplication. 

Screening Interview

After you submit your preapplication, patiently wait for a team member to reach out. They will discuss eligibility and the next steps with you. 


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