SMIF awards 27,828 children’s books valued at over $430,000 to 66 organizations through its Early Literacy Grant Program
 Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently awarded 27,828 children’s books valued at $431,334 to 66 organizations through its Early Literacy Grant Program. This grant supports early literacy efforts that enhance school readiness for children birth to age five 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 five. SMIF has previously partnered with both companies on collectively distributing more than 100,000 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
Apple Lane Community Child Care Center Incorporated, Austin
Austin Aspires
Austin Public Schools
Christmas in the City, Adams
Freeborn County Public Health
Grand Meadow Public Schools
Kingsland Public Schools, Spring Valley
Kiwanis Clubs of Southern MN
Leroy-Ostrander Public Schools Community Education
Parenting Resource Center Incorporated, Austin
Prevent Child Abuse MN/Circle of Parents, Albert Lea
Southern Minnesota Education Consortium, Grand Meadow
Award recipients will be provided 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.