SMIF Adds Owatonna as New Early Childhood Initiative Community

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) has selected Owatonna as its newest Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) Community, funded by an Otto Bremer Foundation grant. Owatonna will now join SMIF's other 20 ECI communities and participate in the Minnesota ECI--a statewide partnership between The McKnight Foundation and the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations.

These ECI communities are learning about and leveraging their assets and creating local "road maps" to promote the whole child, paying equal attention to his or her physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. SMIF will work with the Owatonna ECI to create a mission, vision, and focus areas based on community specific needs. Grant dollars will be available to complete projects to address these needs.

Today, 40-50% of Minnesota children are not prepared for kindergarten, according the Minnesota Department of Education. SMIF invests over $1.5 million dollars annually to support a variety of early childhood development programs, including ECI.

"We are excited that Owatonna has made this commitment to ensure that all young children have the best possible start to a healthy life of learning, achieving and succeeding," states Tim Penny, SMIF President & CEO. "We clearly see the connection between investing in our youngest children--to prepare them to be the workers, entrepreneurs, and leaders of tomorrow--to our vision of economic prosperity and community vitality in this region."

Community members interested in engaging in Owatonna's Early Childhood Initiative process are invited to attend the first three meetings: January 20, February 17, and March 17, from 4-6 p.m. in the Community Room at Roosevelt Community School, 122 East McKinley St. Childcare will be available by members of the Early Childhood Family Education staff. Please RSVP to Jessica Evans at 444-7912 or by January 14. Please be sure to indicate any childcare or dietary needs, as refreshments will be served.

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