Onamia Public School kindergarten students

Partnership Delivers $628,000 to Support Vulnerable Children

LITTLE FALLS, MN—The award of $77,000 in grants to 17 childcare providers and organizations during the first quarter of 2023 rounded out more than $628,000 delivered to support vulnerable youth during the pandemic.

In total, 119 childcare providers and organizations received funding administered by the Initiative Foundation and provided in late 2020 by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund.

Grants were used to create distance-learning spaces at home and center-based childcare facilities and to provide summer lunches for students in need. Several Central Minnesota organizations used the funding to create learning-recovery programs to help students catch up to grade-level standards after the pandemic.

“These grants helped to bridge the gap to support our underserved communities and deliver real, meaningful resources—especially for those who lack access to basic early childhood educational services,” said Don Hickman, Initiative Foundation interim co-president and vice president for workforce and community development. “We were honored to be able to partner with the Minnesota Department of Education to deliver these grants.”

Onamia kindergarten teacher Makenzie Raiber said the grant helped to advance reading skills and united students in learning. “Thank you so much for the grant to purchase books for our classrooms,” she said. “We are excited to read the books with our students and create shared experiences through them.”

Grants were earmarked for children ages birth to 8. The grants focused on programs serving children vulnerable to disruptions in the childcare system, including the underserved, English-as-a-second-language learners, low-income, special needs, children in foster care, and those in rural areas who lack access to basic early childhood services. Grants were awarded across the Initiative Foundation’s 14-county service area, which includes portions of two Native nations.

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