OWATONNA, Minn., February 19, 2018Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), in partnership with ABDO Publishing and Capstone, is accepting applications for the Early Childhood Literacy Grant Program. The Literacy Program is designed to support early literacy efforts that enhance school readiness for children birth to age 5 by providing children with books. Organizations working with these children in SMIF’s 20-county region are encouraged to apply for books to be given to families to keep and read to their children.

SMIF has previously partnered with both publishing companies on collectively distributing more than a hundred thousand books across the region through grants and programming. The Literacy Program is a new collaborative effort to put more books into the hands of children birth to five.

We know literacy skill development is a key measure of future success in school and life. “A lack of literacy skills in young children is a major barrier to getting ready for Kindergarten,” said Rae Jean Hansen, Vice President of Early Childhood at SMIF. “Our long-term partnerships with both ABDO and Capstone are critical to our efforts to provide parents and children in the region with support they need to prepare for school.”

“At Capstone, we are passionate about improving the world through literacy,” said Christie Skilbred, Corporate Giving and Literacy Center Manager for Coughlan Companies, the holding company for Capstone. “Our continued partnership with Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation parallels our mission of providing children the building blocks for lifelong success. We are thrilled to stand together with SMIF to assist in providing the new Literacy Grants and look forward to the positive impact these grants offer southern Minnesota.”

Award recipients will choose from a selection of more than 10,000 books donated by the publishing companies, including bilingual and early childhood appropriate books. Applications are due to SMIF by April 12, 2018. Awards will be announced in May with a book pick-up celebration in June.

Click here for more details or to apply. Contact Jennifer Heien at 507-214-7040 or jenniferh@smifoundation.org with questions.

About ABDO Publishing

A Mankato company, ABDO Publishing is a leading educational publisher of books and digital resources for today’s schools and libraries. Having served libraries since 1985, ABDO has earned a reputation as a publisher that delivers family-friendly educational-based titles. Consisting of four divisions including ABDO Publishing Company, specializing in quality nonfiction; Spotlight, featuring licensed fiction; Magic Wagon, picture books, chapter books, and graphic novels; and Abdo Digital, featuring thousands of eBooks, interactive books and databases for libraries. To learn more about ABDO please visit www.abdopublishing.com.

About Capstone

Capstone is a leading publisher of children’s books in nonfiction and fiction, digital products and services and literacy programs. Capstone’s content comes in a variety of print and digital formats including board books, picture books, interactive books, apps, audio and databases. Imprints under Capstone include Capstone Press, Stone Arch Books, Picture Window Books, Heinemann Raintree and Compass Point Books. For more information, visit www.CapstonePub.com.