Foundation gives books to southern Minn. children

OWATONNA, Minn. — Grants of more than 21,000 children’s books were awarded to 46 regional organizations through the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s Early Literacy Grant Program.

This program supports early literacy efforts that enhance school readiness for children birth to age 8 by providing children with books.

Area organizations awarded Early Literacy Grants because they provide outstanding early literacy opportunities for young children and their families included Brown County Public Health, Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop Early Childhood, Madelia Early Childhood Family Education, New Ulm ECFE and Sleepy Eye ECFE.

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 100,000 books throughout the region through grants and programming.

“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.


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