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Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation awarded grant through the Blue Cross Foundation

Thu, Jul 10th, 2014
Posted in All Health & Wellness

OWATONNA, Minn. - Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) received a $100,000 grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation to help more children be better prepared for kindergarten in Martin, Faribault, Fillmore and Houston counties. The funds will be used to expand SMIF’s proven Quality Child Care Program (QCCP) into four counties for family child care providers. The trainings will be held in these four counties; although providers from other counties are welcome and encouraged to attend. SMIF will work with Child Care Aware Southern, First Children’s Finance, and other local early childhood partners to implement the program.

SMIF’s goal is to continue to expand and increase the number of Parent Aware-rated, licensed family providers so they can provide quality programming, ensuring more children are ready for kindergarten. The program gives providers opportunities close to home: group trainings, one-on-one mentoring, and curriculum to support improved quality ratings.

The SMIF grant is one of five awarded across the state to help licensed family child care providers participate in Parent Aware, Minnesota’s quality rating system.

“Education and health are strongly connected, and a solid start is essential for healthy futures. We know that 90 percent of brain development happens before age five, and healthy development in the earliest years of life is linked to healthy behaviors later in life,” said Carolyn Link, executive director of the Foundation. “We are proud to support SMIF in its effort to help young learners and their education and care providers.”

“We are excited to be able to continue expanding our Quality Child Care Provider training into four additional counties, thanks to this grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation,” said Tim Penny, SMIF President/CEO. “Our proven QCCP training is effective in providing outreach, technical assistance, training, financial incentives, and other tools to enhance quality and increase participation in the Parent Aware Quality Rating System-especially in under-served, targeted areas across southern Minnesota.”

For more information on Blue Cross’ grantmaking programs, visit bcbsmnfoundation.org or call (651) 662-3950. For more information about SMIF, visit www.smifoundation.org or call 507-455-3215.

About Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), a donor-supported foundation, invests for economic growth in 20 Minnesota counties. The Foundation has provided more than $50 million in grants and loans within the region during the past 28 years. SMIF’s key interests include early childhood and entrepreneur development. To learn more about our work and mission call 507-455-3215 or visit www.smifoundation.org.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota


The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation makes a healthy difference in communities by advancing health equity and improving conditions where people live, learn, work and play, awarding more than $37 million since it was established in 1986.

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