Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation awards 53 organizations with grants

Published 8:16 am Thursday, May 9, 2024

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Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation recently awarded 19,040 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 eight. 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 – Early Learning
  • Allina Health in Northfield
  • Blooming Prairie Elementary School
  • Butterfield-Odin School
  • Byron Public Schools
  • Childrens Museum of Rochester
  • Christmas in the City in Adams and Taopi
  • Exchange Club Center for Family Unity in Owatonna
  • Faribault Public Schools
  • Fillmore Central Public Schools Community Education
  • Fillmore County Public Health
  • Good Counsel Learning Center in Mankato
  • Goodhue Public Schools
  • Grace Place in Winona
  • Gundersen Lutheran La Crescent Clinic
  • Human Services of Faribault and Martin Counties
  • Impact Center in Winona
  • Kasson-Mantorville Community Education
  • Kingsland Public Schools Community Education in Spring Valley
  • Lanesboro Public Library
  • Le Sueur County Public Health
  • Le Sueur-Henderson Public School & ECFE
  • Leo Augusta Children’s Academy in Blooming Prairie
  • LeRoy-Ostrander Public Schools
  • Mankato Area Public Schools Community Education
  • Mankato Kiwanis Foundation
  • Minnesota Valley Action Council in Mankato
  • New Prague Area Community Education
  • New Ulm Public Schools
  • Next Chapter Inc. in Austin
  • Northfield Public Schools Community Education
  • New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Schools Community Education
  • Owatonna Public Schools
  • Read Seed Inc in Austin
  • Ridgeview Foundation in Le Sueur
  • Rochester Public Schools
  • Rochester YMCA
  • Saint John Lutheran Church in Good Thunder
  • Saint Peter Community Childcare Center Inc
  • SEMCAC Head Start in Rushford
  • Sleepy Eye Early Childhood Family Education
  • St. Charles Early Learning Programs
  • Steele County Public Health
  • Stewartville Early Childhood
  • Three Rivers Community Action in Zumbrota
  • Tri-City United Early Learning in Montgomery
  • Triton Public Schools in Dodge Center
  • Tri-Valley Opportunity Council Elgin
  • United Way of Steele County
  • Waseca County Public Health
  • Waseca Family Education Center
  • Watonwan County Public Health
  • 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.