The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation recently approved nine grants totaling more than $120,000 to help meet the needs of children birth to age five and their families.

Locally, the 2018 Early Childhood Grant award recipients are:

  • $20,000 to A Chance to Grow to embed the S.M.A.R.T. (Stimulating Maturity through Accelerated Readiness Training) Pre-K learning readiness strategy into the culture of preschools and school districts in southern Minnesota so that the strategy is a regular part of planning and operations.
  • $20,000 to Exchange Center for Family Unity (based in Owatonna) to meet the increasing need for an in-home parenting service which teaches valuable parenting skills, specifically for families with children ages 0-5.
  • $12,000 to Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial Community Education to develop a comprehensive plan for teachers, parents and child care providers with a focus on Pre-K to Grade 3 alignment.
  • $10,000 to New Prague Area Early Childhood Initiative to promote positive development in children ages 3-5 by creating social-emotional book bags for area preschool teachers and child care providers.
  • $10,000 to Watonwan County Human Services to connect Guatemalan families in Butterfield to resources and educational opportunities to support successful parenting.
  • $18,500 to Wellcome Manor Family Services to strengthen the social-emotional and behavior skills in young children while teaching parents how to support children in building these skills.

SMIF President and CEO Tim Penny said, “These organizations are doing the critical work of preparing young children for school, supporting the development of social-emotional skills, and educating parents, caregivers and teachers in the region,” and added, “SMIF’s Early Childhood Grants support the Foundation’s focus area of investing in the children and families of our 20 county region in southern Minnesota.”

Projects are expected to be completed within 12 months of the project start date. The next round for Early Childhood Grants opens in fall 2018.