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SMIF seeking applications for child care, education grants

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Education, is accepting applications for its Early Care and Education Wrap Around Grant program, according to a press release. The grant program will help fund early care and education wrap around services for children birth to age 8 from underserved populations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations that work with children in SMIF’s 20-county region are eligible to apply. Requests of up to $10,000 will be considered.

SMIF received funding from MDE on behalf of the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund for the program. The GEER Fund provides emergency assistance for education agencies and services that have been impacted by the pandemic. Wrap around services, a system of care management which supports children in all aspects of life, are one of many education services the GEER Fund supports. As a leader for more than three decades in the early childhood field, SMIF was awarded this funding in order to quickly disperse grants to organizations in southern Minnesota, the release stated.

Funding from the grant can help cover mental health services and supports, supplemental after-school programs, distance learning programs and social, emotional and physical health supports. Additional allowable uses include training and development to more effectively operate during the pandemic, or other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in early care and education. Applicants must serve children birth to age 8 from historically underserved populations.

“It is critical that young children who rely on important services for their overall well-being receive the care they need during this especially difficult time,” said Rae Jean Hansen, vice president of Early Childhood. “We are honored to partner with MDE and the GEER Fund in this effort.”

Applications are due to SMIF by Oct. 29. For the application and guidelines, visit www.smifoundation.org or contact Jennifer Heien, grants coordinator, at 507-214-7040 or jenniferh@smifoundation.org. For questions about the grant, contact Rae Jean Hansen at raejeanh@smifoundation.org.

In addition to the program, SMIF has been providing direct assistance to early childhood professionals, entrepreneurs and communities through the crisis, nearing $11 million in impact with the support of many partners, according to the release. For more information, visit smifoundation.org/covid-19.

SMIF, a donor-supported foundation, invests for economic growth in the 20 counties of south central and southeastern Minnesota. The foundation has provided more than $121 million in grants, loans and programming within the region during the past 34 years. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood, community and economic development. To learn more about its work and mission, visit www.smifoundation.org.