After working in a middle school library, Harold Rayford realized that the academic achievement gap facing students starts well before they enter school. So he created a program, 1800 Days, with a mission of eliminating the achievement gap for students of color in Dane County, one child at a time.

Rayford and a team of volunteers have developed partnerships with local school districts, libraries, the United Way of Dane County and the Urban League of Greater Madison to help address the needs of the children they serve and better prepare them for the next educational step.

“Our No. 1 goal is focusing on early childhood development, raising awareness of the importance of those first 1,800 days,” says Rayford, pastor at The Faith Place Church in Sun Prairie. “There are tremendous resources and creative approaches to this in Dane County, but it hasn’t been coordinated.”

Rayford says “1,800 days never end.” He says it can lead to 1,800 days of housing improvements, 1,800 days of employment, 1,800 days of healthy eating—the list goes on. 

The M List

Madison Magazine’s M List is a who’s who of organizations and individuals who are having an impact on our local culture and economy. In its fourth year, the M List recognizes those making strides as mentors and teachers. Last year's list of honorees were making impacts in the area of social innovation. The original M List, in 2013, honored the technology sector. The 2014 M List honored "Foodtastic" entrepreneurs and innovators.