“On your mark, get set, ready, go!” In the language of childhood, these words are an exciting invitation—and a signal that it’s time to be at the starting line and prepared to take off in order to sprint to success. But what happens when children aren’t ready for the most important race of their lives? Every year, four million children in America enter kindergarten, but as many as one in three won’t be ready for school—and many of them will never catch up. Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids, or SPARK, a national initiative of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, was designed to get children at the starting line and ready to go. Seeking “ready children,” “ready communities,” and “ready schools,” SPARK worked for over five years in seven states and Washington, D.C., to help communities unite resources to better prepare children for school and smooth the transition between pre-school and elementary school settings. The Children’s Defense Fund’s Southern Regional Office (CDF-SRO) was honored to be the grantee for SPARK Mississippi (SPARK-MS), a $5 million initiative that has improved school readiness for more than 800 Mississippi children ages three to eight—a concrete example of what’s working to improve children’s chances.