The Northland Foundation, in partnership with five other foundations in Minnesota, has announced a renewed commitment to early childhood programming in rural areas of the state, with a focus on an increasingly diverse set of strategies that take into account local perspectives.
Established in 1986 by the McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota Initiative Foundations includes the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls, the Northland Foundation in Duluth, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation in Bemidji, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation in Owatonna, the Southwest Initiative Foundation in Hutchinson, and the West Central Initiative in Fergus Falls. Since 2003, McKnight has contributed $15.8 million, which the six initiative foundations collectively have matched, to advance collaborative early care and education strategies in the state.
In 2018, the strategies employed by the collaborative will include a $500,000 challenge grant from the Initiative Foundation to help early childhood coalitions in fourteen counties in central Minnesota drive additional local fundraising; programming, training, and funding from the Northland Foundation to boost access to high-quality child care, strengthen infant and early childhood mental health resources, bolster early literacy, and expand school and community partnerships in seven counties in northeastern Minnesota; continuing support from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation to assist early childhood efforts in the region; $1.6 million from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation in support of local efforts in twenty counties to create and further develop strong early childhood programs; additional investment from the Southwest Initiative Foundation in local strategies in eighteen counties, including nearly $500,000 to address rural child care issues; and ongoing partnerships between the West Central Initiative and ten early childhood initiative coalitions focused on public policy reform, PK-3 alignment, the child care workforce, and social determinants of health.
"Our foundations have worked with numerous partners since 2003 to ensure every child in greater Minnesota has the best opportunity to lead a healthy life of learning, achieving, and succeeding," said Tim Penny, president and CEO of the Southern Minnesota Foundation. "These young children are greater Minnesota's — and our nation's — future. We need to continue to build on our progress and invest in this critical goal while exploring innovative strategies to grow our impact."
(Photo credit: Getty Images)