Feature Image: Southern Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative coalition leaders and SMIF Early Childhood staff holding the Governor’s Proclamation.

For Immediate Release

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation’s 25 early childhood coalitions celebrate 15 years of our communities driving change locally, regionally, and statewide

OWATONNA, Minn., March 22, 2018 Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) is pleased to announce that Governor Mark Dayton proclaimed Tuesday, March 20, 2018 as Minnesota Initiative Foundations’ Early Childhood Initiative Day. The Proclamation honors 15 years of collaboration between SMIF and the five other Minnesota Initiative Foundations, along with community members and funding partners, to provide young children in Greater Minnesota with the best possible start toward a life of learning, achieving, and succeeding.

The Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative, a campaign for our youngest children, was launched in 2003 by the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations, in partnership with McKnight Foundation. The six Foundations implemented this model in their respective rural regions to engage local citizens in coalitions, focusing energy and resources on the needs of young children birth to age 8. More than 90 early childhood coalitions have been established in Greater Minnesota communities, 25 of those by SMIF in southern Minnesota: Austin, Blue Earth Area, Brown County, Fairmont Area, Faribault, Fillmore County, Freeborn County Thrive, Gibbon Fairfax Winthrop, Greater Mankato Area, Houston County, Kasson-Mantorville, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Lake Crystal, Martin County, New Prague Area, Northfield, Owatonna, Red Wing, Tri-City United, St. Peter, St. Charles Area, Waseca County, Waterville Elysian Morristown, Watonwan County, and Winona.

“All children are actively learning from birth on and it’s critical they receive quality care for their healthy development,” said Rae Jean Hansen, Vice President of Early Childhood at SMIF. “The people in our region who lead and participate in the Early Childhood Initiative Coalitions have accomplished programs, promoted policy and raised the level of awareness of quality early childhood.  We are proud of these partnerships and the strong networks built throughout the region and the state.”

Governor Dayton’s Proclamation reads as follows:

Whereas: In 2003, six Minnesota Initiative Foundations established the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative to promote high-quality early care and education for young children in Greater Minnesota; and

Whereas: Investment in our youngest children helps build bright futures for children and families, and creates significant economic benefits for Minnesota communities; and

Whereas: All children must enter school ready to succeed, and the best interest of our children must be a priority for leaders and policymakers; and

Whereas: The Minnesota Initiative Foundations have established a network of over 90 community coalitions engaging diverse stakeholders to champion high-quality early care and education, encourage leaders to create solutions to local needs, and present a unified voice to influence early childhood policy; and

Whereas: With the support of funding and community partners during the past 15 years, the Minnesota Initiative Foundations jointly raised $15.8 million, and leveraged millions of dollars more for their respective rural regions to advance early care and education strategies throughout Greater Minnesota; and

Whereas: Tens of thousands of children in Minnesota have been given strong starts to learning, achieving, and succeeding due to the contributions and shared vision of the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations, funders, volunteers, community partners, and donors statewide; and

Whereas: The six Minnesota Initiative Foundations serving Greater Minnesota will continue to utilize diverse early care and education strategies to ensure that young children and their families remain at the forefront of community and legislative conversation and action.

Now, therefore, I, Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota, do hereby proclaim Tuesday, March 20, 2018, as: Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative Day.