The 2021
Smart Start Conference

Join the VIRTUAL Event
May 3-6, 2021

About the Conference

The Smart Start Conference is the nation’s largest conference devoted to early education systems and strategies. The conference provides advanced professional development for early education leaders committed to improving the quality of and access to early childhood services for all children ages birth to five. It is intended for professionals who support families, for professionals who support those who work with children, and professionals engaging in early care and education systems change. 

This year the conference is happening virtually May 3 – May 6 with select featured sessions taking place each Thursday throughout May.  Conference registration will cost $75.00 and include four days of workshops, a closing keynote by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, sponsorship sessions, and three feature panels. 

What to Expect

Workshop focus areas include:

  • Early Care and Education
  • Early Childhood Health and Development
  • Family Support and Engagement
  • Public Engagement, Fundraising, and Nonprofit Management
  • Early Childhood Systems and Leadership

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or 984-221-1614


We are excited to welcome
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi as our Closing Keynote Speaker

Ibram X. Kendi is a New York Times bestselling author and the founding director of The Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. A professor of history and international relations, Kendi is a contributing writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of The Black Campus Movement, which won the W.E.B. Du Bois Book Prize, and Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction. At 34 years old, he was the youngest ever winner of the NBA for Nonfiction.

Kendi has published numerous essays in academic journals and periodicals, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Time, and The Washington Post. He has received research fellowships, grants, and visiting appointments from a variety of universities, foundations, professional associations, and libraries, including the American Historical Association, Library of Congress, National Academy of Education, Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, Brown University, Princeton University, UCLA, and Duke University. Kendi was awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and he was honored on The Root 100 in 2019, which listed him as the 15th most influential African American between the ages of 25 and 45 and the most influential college professor.

In August 2019, Kendi’s third book, How to Be an Antiracist, debuted at no. 2 on the New York Times bestseller list and was hailed by the New York Times as “the most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind.” It has been named to several Best Books of 2019 lists, including in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time, and NPR. His next book, co-authored with Jason Reynolds and coming in March, is Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, a young adult version of Stamped from the Beginning. Kendi lives in Washington, D.C.


Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors