21,020 children’s books awarded through SMIF’s Early Literacy Grant program

Published 6:09 pm Friday, July 15, 2022

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Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently awarded 21,020 children’s books to 46 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 100,000 books across the region through grants and programming.

Those area groups in our area that received the books include

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• Blooming Prairie Elementary School

• Christmas in the Cities of Adams and Taopi

• Kiwanis Clubs of Southern Minnesota

• Leo Augusta Children’s Academy in Blooming Prairie

• Southern Minnesota Education Consortium in Grand Meadow

“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