Creating a runway for success for Wake County’s youngest children.

Wake County Smart Start


Wake County Smart Start
Wake ThreeSchool
4901 Waters Edge Drive
Suite 101
Raleigh, NC 27606


(919) 851-9550

Wake ThreeSchool

Wake ThreeSchool is a new early learning program for Wake County three-year-olds that will open its classrooms in the fall of 2022.

This new program will provide early education to young children in a play-based, dynamic way, like the nationally recognized NC Pre-K program. Research shows that when three-year-olds receive support for learning early, they learn better, gain stronger skills, and are better prepared for success in Pre-K and Kindergarten ahead. This is because at age three, a child’s brain is building connections rapidly in a way that is unique to this time of life. This “framework” is what all future learning is built upon.

In the first year of the program (July 1, 2021 – June 30th, 2022) Wake ThreeSchool will hire initial staff, assess community need, review research on best practices, and gather community input as we build this unique program. The program will open a limited number of classrooms in the fall of 2022, serving up to 100 children.

Interested in applying for the 2022-2023 school year?

To be considered for Wake ThreeSchool for the 2022-23 school year, your child must be 3 years old on or before August 31, 2022.

Wake ThreeSchool is prioritized for families with low incomes (below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level) and for other related priority groups such as children with documented health or learning issues, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and/or have parents who are active duty members of the armed forces or speak a language other than English at home.

In January of 2022, families will be able to apply in two ways:

  1. Apply online through the Wake ThreeSchool online portal
  2. Print the application and mail it in

Why is Wake ThreeSchool needed?

Wake ThreeSchool will expand publicly funded services for three-year-olds – an identified need. Currently low-wealth families who need help to access early learning programs can seek Child Care Subsidy assistance. However, Child Care Subsidy does not support all the families with three-year-olds who need it, and the early learning programs families are linked to are not part of an integrated system of Pre-K preparation for Kindergarten. Wake ThreeSchool will use an intensive model, specific curriculum, and shared measures for success. The program bridges the gap in publicly funded services for children that have aged out of the State’s infant-toddler services and not yet eligible or NC Pre-K and in turn improves the outcomes for children’s learning.

Are you an early childhood program that currently serves three-year-olds? You may have interest in this specialized page that offers information relevant to professionals and allows for your input as the program is developed.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    How old does my child need to be to participate?

    Children must be age three by August 31st to be eligible to apply.

    When will applications be available?

    The online application and paper application will be available in January 2022.

    Is there a cost for attendance?

    ThreeSchool is free to income eligible families, representing $10,000 in tuition support.

    How do I know if my family is income eligible?

    Wake ThreeSchool is prioritized for families below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.

    Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
    1 $25,760
    2 $34,840
    3 $43,920
    4 $53,000
    5 $62,080
    6 $71,160
    7 $80,240
    8 $89,320
    For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,540 for each additional person.



If you have specific questions about Wake ThreeSchool, please contact Carol Orji, Wake ThreeSchool Manager, at corji@wakesmartstart.org.


Wake ThreeSchool is funded by Wake County Government and managed by Wake County Smart Start.