21,020 children’s books awarded through SMIF’s Early Literacy Grant program

Published 9:34 am Thursday, July 14, 2022

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation recently awarded 21,020 children’s books to 46 organizations through its Early Literacy Grant Program. This grant supports early literacy efforts that enhance school readiness for children birth to age 8 by providing children with books.
The books were awarded in partnership with Capstone and ABDO, Mankato-based publishers of children’s books and digital products and services, according to a press release. In 2002, Capstone helped launch the BookStart program, working with SMIF to distribute thousands of books to children in the region over a period of 15 years. In 2018, the Early Literacy Grant was formed as a new collaborative effort between SMIF and the two publishers to put even more books into the hands of children birth to age eight. SMIF has previously partnered with both companies on collectively distributing more than 100,000 books across the region through grants and programming.
The following organizations were awarded Early Literacy Grants:
  • Blooming Prairie Elementary School
  • Brown County Public Health
  • Byron Public School
  • Children’s Museum of Rochester, Inc
  • Children’s Museum of Southern MN in Mankato
  • Christmas in the Cities of Adams and Taopi
  • Circle of Parents in Albert Lea
  • City of Good Thunder
  • Faribault Public Schools
  • Fillmore Central Community Education
  • Fillmore County Public Health
  • Freeborn County Public Health
  • Friends of the Houston MN Public Library
  • Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop Early Childhood
  • Good Shepherd Preschool in Owatonna
  • Human Services of Faribault and Martin Counties
  • Kasson-Mantorville Community Education
  • Kingsland Public Schools in Spring Valley
  • Kiwanis Clubs of Southern Minnesota
  • Lanesboro Public Library
  • Le Sueur-Henderson Public School and ECFE
  • Leo Augusta Children’s Academy in Blooming Prairie
  • Little Lakers Early Learning Center in Lake Crystal
  • Madelia Early Childhood Family Education
  • Minnesota Valley Action Council Head Start in Mankato
  • Muir Library in Winnebago
  • New Prague Area Schools & Community Education
  • New Ulm ECFE
  • Northfield Public Schools
  • NRHEG Public Schools in New Richland
  • Rochester YMCA
  • SEMCAC- Head start in Rushford
  • Sleepy Eye Early Childhood Family Education
  • Southern Minnesota Education Consortium in Grand Meadow
  • St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in North Mankato
  • Star Light Early Learning Center in Blue Earth
  • Stewartville Community Education
  • Tri-City United Early Learning Center in Montgomery
  • Three Rivers Community Action Incorporated in Northfield
  • Triton ECFE in Dodge Center
  • Tri-Valley Opportunity Council Elgin
  • United Way of Steele County
  • Waterville-Elysian-Morristown Public Schools
  • Watonwan County Public Health
  • Wells Public Library
  • Zumbro Education District
“Getting books into the hands of young children powers their development with language, reading and so much more,” said Rae Jean Hansen, vice president of Early Childhood at SMIF. “Our long-term partnerships with both Capstone and ABDO are critical to our efforts to provide parents and children with support they need to prepare for school.”
Award recipients were provided with a selection of titles donated by the publishing companies, including bilingual- and early childhood-appropriate books. The organizations will incorporate the books into their programs and events where young children will receive books to take home and keep.