Early Childhood Grants

The current Early Childhood grant round is closed. The next round will open in fall 2018. 

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) is a regional development and philanthropic organization that fosters economic and community vitality in the 20 counties of southern Minnesota through a culture of collaboration and partnership.

SMIF’s Early Childhood Grants are designed to support asset-based collaborative approaches to meeting the needs of children birth to age 5 and their families.

SMIF strives to provide quality learning opportunities that focus on getting the whole child ready to succeed. Research indicates that environments and experiences in the early years are the most influential in the development of a child’s brain; therefore, SMIF is making investments of up to $20,000 in the following areas:

  • Social and Emotional Development – build social emotional skills in children through education and prevention or by training and educating parents, caregivers, and teachers.
  • Pre-K to Grade 3 Alignment – community-wide approaches to coordination among standards, curricula, instructional practices, student assessment, and teacher professional development between the preschool and the early elementary school years.
  • School Readiness – give all children access to opportunities that promote school readiness including closing the achievement gap for at-risk children.

2018 Grant Recipients

Grant Guidelines

  • Proposals must be submitted by an independent 501(c)(3) organization, a unit of government or a public agency.
  • Proposals must demonstrate benefit to SMIF’s 20-county region.
  • Funding requests up to $20,000 will be considered.
  • Only one application per organization will be considered.
  • Projects must be completed within one year of the grant award date.
  • All grants require a 100% match, at least 25% cash and the remainder in-kind.


Ineligible organizations or activities include:

  • Individuals, businesses, or other for-profit organizations
  • Organizations that have an open SMIF Early Childhood Grant or have not fulfilled grant reporting requirements within the past year.
  • General operating expenses
  • Capital funding, campaigns or endowments
  • Funds for re-granting

Application Process

  • SMIF awards grants on a competitive basis.
  • A final report is due following the grant period. Failure to submit a completed final report may jeopardize future grant funding from SMIF.
  • SMIF will provide a public announcement highlighting the project on behalf of the grant recipient. 

Required Documents

  • Completed application
  • SMIF Project Budget Worksheet
  • Audited financials or filed fax forms if unaudited
  • IRS 501(C)(3) determination letter (if nonprofit organization)


  • For questions about what SMIF might fund contact Teri Steckelberg, Early Childhood Director, at 507.214.7015 or teris@smifoundation.org.
  • For questions about the application process or required documentation contact Jennifer Heien, Grants Coordinator, at 507.214.7040 or jenniferh@smifoundation.org

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