Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation awards 53 organizations with grants for books

Published 10:55 am Monday, June 26, 2023

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Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation recently awarded 22,350 children’s books to 53 organizations through its Early Literacy Grant Program. This grant supports early literacy efforts that enhance school readiness for children birth to age eight 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. 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 8. SMIF has previously partnered with both companies on collectively distributing more than 230,000 books across the region through grants and programming.

The following organizations were awarded Early Literacy Grants because they provide outstanding early literacy opportunities for young children and their families:

  • Albert Lea Area Schools
  • Alden-Conger Preschool
  • Allina Health in Northfield
  • Brown County Public Health
  • Byron Public Schools
  • Children’s Museum of Rochester Inc
  • Christmas in the City in Adams
  • Community Health Service Inc. in Rochester
  • Dodge County Public Health
  • Elysian Area Library
  • Faribault Public Schools
  • Fillmore Central Community Education
  • Friends of the Houston Minnesota Public Library
  • Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop ECFE/School Readiness
  • Good Shepherd Preschool in Owatonna
  • Human Services of Faribault and Martin Counties
  • Lewiston-Altura Schools
  • Kasson-Mantorville Community Education
  • Kenyon-Wanamingo Early Education
  • Kingsland Public Schools in Spring Valley
  • Le Sueur-Henderson Public School and ECFE
  • Leo Augusta Children’s Academy in Blooming Prairie
  • Mayo Clinic Health System-Faribault
  • Minnesota Child Care Provider Information Network in Welcome
  • Minnesota Valley Action Council in Mankato
  • Muir Library in Winnebago
  • New Prague Area Community Education
  • New Ulm Schools
  • Next Chapter Inc. in Austin
  • Northfield Public Schools Community Education in Northfield
  • New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Public Schools – Community Education
  • Parenting Resource Center in Austin
  • Pine Island Schools
  • Ridgeview Foundation
  • River Bend Education District in New Ulm
  • Riverside Central Elementary in Rochester
  • Rochester Public Schools
  • Sleepy Eye ECFE
  • Spring Grove School ECFE
  • St. Charles Early Learning Programs
  • Stewartville Early Childhood
  • Tri-City United School Early Learning in Montgomery
  • Three Rivers Community Action Inc in Zumbrota
  • United Way of Goodhue Wabasha and Pierce Counties
  • United Way of Steele County
  • Village Agricultural Cooperative in Rochester
  • Wabasha County Social Services
  • Winona ECFE
  • Waseca County Public Health
  • Waterville Public Library
  • Watonwan County Public Health
  • Wee Pals Child Care Center in Owatonna
  • Wells Public Library

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“At SMIF, we know that providing families with books for young children can be a powerful way to lay the groundwork for literacy,” 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.