Stairway to Success





Stairway to Success is a friendly competition among VML member localities. The program seeks to increase local government’s role in early childhood education, which in turn, builds a qualified, well-educated workforce. The competition awards points to localities for specific actions that enhance the early childhood experience. The 2017 participants will be recognized during the Annual Banquet and awards program at VML’s Annual Conference October 1-3 in Williamsburg.

Steps to participate

Step 1 - Review the contest details and rules below.

Step 2 - Adopt a resolution on the importance of early childhood education. Download sample resolution. Email copy of resolution to

Step 3 - Download the digital application form here and begin tracking your points.

Step 4 - E-mail your completed application form to VML at by August 18, 2017.


Who is eligible?

Eligible participants include cities, towns and counties, but partnerships with other local government and regional agencies and with the private sector are encouraged.

What is the application deadline?

Completed applications must be e-mailed to no later than August 18, 2017.

Download the digital application form here.

Awards Categories

StairwayBronzeReady.jpg• Adoption of a resolution on the importance of early childhood education

1 or more activities totaling a minimum of 20 points


StairwaySilverSet.jpg• Adoption of a resolution on the importance of early childhood education

3 or more activities totaling a minimum of 30 points


StairwayGoldGo.jpg• Adoption of a resolution on the importance of early childhood education

5 or more activities totaling a minimum of 50 points


Checklist of Activities

Complete details on the checklist of activities that will earn points toward the award are available on the application form at Creative activities are encouraged. The common denominator is early childhood education. City, county and town officials are encouraged to develop their own approaches to supporting early childhood education. 

StairwayChildrenReading.jpgThe activities below can get you started and/or help you gauge the number of points that comparable activities would merit. 

Also, you can claim points for activities you are already doing, such as participation in Read Across America, or support for storytelling programs at the local library, but VML encourages you to enter into new programs as well.

Five Points

Five point activities are designed specifically to encourage participation in the program and to take very little staff time to develop. Examples of activities that will earn five points include establishing a station for collection of donated art supplies, displaying preschoolers’ art projects in public buildings or other activities of similar scope. Remember, too, you can receive credit for activities you are already doing.

StairwayKidArt.jpgTen Points

Hold an art competition for preschoolers, recognize local preschool educators or provide financial support for the Virginia Preschool Initiative Program or Head Start, or undertake similar activities and you will earn 10 points.


Fifteen Points

Develop some creative programs on your own such as a nature program targeted at preschoolers, literacy initiatives and programs aimed at the parents of young children (such as CPR or effective parenting), and you will earn 15 points.

What happens if we win?

Winners in all categories will be notified by September 8. All winners will be honored during the awards presentation at the VML Annual Conference on October 3 in Williamsburg.

For more information

Questions? For further information, call Michelle Gowdy at (804) 523-8525 or e-mail


StairwayRordam.jpg“I am advocating that we find ways to enhance the early childhood experience to build a strong, resilient community able to successfully meet the demands of the future.  Stairway to Success recognizes initiatives, tailored to our communities, that will allow our children to have a better chance of entering the school system on an even playing field.  It is designed to give all our children the tools to be successful.”

Ron Rordam, VML President, Mayor of Blacksburg



VML recognizes the 23 localities that achieved Gold Status in the first year of the Stairway to Success Program

2016StairwayWinners_web.jpgTown of Ashland, Hanover County and Smart Beginnings
Town of Big Stone Gap
Town of Blacksburg
City of Bristol
Town of Gordonsville
Town of Lawrenceville
Town of Leesburg
City of Lexington
City of Manassas
Town of Narrows
Town of Orange
City of Portsmouth
County of Prince George
City of Richmond
City of Roanoke
Town of Stanley
County of York
City of Colonial Heights
County of Loudoun
City of Martinsville
Town of New Market
Town of Pearisburg
City of Virginia Beach