Application | Guidelines | Email inquiries and applications to

SMIF’s Literacy Grant 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 are encouraged to apply for books to be given to families to keep and read to their children. The Literacy Grant Program receives books through partnerships with ABDO Publishing and Capstone.

2018 Timeline

  • Application Due: April 12, 2018
  • Grant Awards Made: May 10, 2018
  • Grant Recipient Book Pick-up: June 21, 2018


  • Applications must be submitted by an independent 501(c)(3) organization, a unit of government or a public agency.
  • Proposal must benefit SMIF’s 20-county region.
  • Only one application per organization will be considered.
  • Books must be distributed within one year of the grant award date.


Ineligible activities include:

  • Books used as library and/or school books.
  • Books for resale.
  • Books not given directly to children to take home to keep, to read and be read to.
  • Books as a pass-through from one organization to another
  • Projects that do not include a significant parent education component focused on literacy.

Priority Considerations

Priority in funding will be given to projects that:

  • Strengthen parental awareness of early literacy needs including communication and language development.
  • Target populations that may not be receiving books through any other avenues in the community.
  • Collaborate with other organizations to provide literacy tools to enhance and increase school readiness skills.
  • Are new and creative.

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 awards from SMIF.
  • SMIF will provide a public announcement highlighting awards on behalf of the grant recipient.
  • Grant recipients are required to attend a book pick up on June 21, 2018 in Owatonna.

Required Documents

  • Completed application
  • IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter (if nonprofit organization)

For grant award consideration, submit a completed application by April 12, 2018 via email to or postal mail to:

Grants Coordinator
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation
PO Box 695
Owatonna, MN 55060

All applicants will be contacted via email or telephone to confirm receipt of their application. Applicants will be notified of award decisions by May 10, 2018.


For questions about what SMIF might fund contact Teri Steckelberg, Early Childhood Director, at 507.214.7015 or email at 

For questions about the application process or required documentation contact Jennifer Heien, Grants Coordinator, at 507.214.7040 or

SMIF is a member of the Minnesota Council of Foundations and adheres to the Council of Foundation’s Statement of Principles and Practices. 

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

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


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