Working for Minnesota Families

Building on the long-term success of the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative, the Minnesota Initiative Foundations are leveraging their extensive early care and education experience, their economic development expertise and their networks of relationships to address a pressing new issue: the critical shortage of child care.

Accessible, Affordable Child Care

High-quality care that is accessible and affordable for families is vitally important to the wellbeing of children, parents, employers and the economy. A 2016-2017 report from the Center for Rural Policy and Development underscored the seriousness of the shortage throughout Greater Minnesota.

In cooperation with public, private and nonprofit partners, the Minnesota Initiative Foundations are providing:

  • Coalition-building support to help community members seek and implement creative solutions
  • Training and incentives to support child care providers and those thinking of entering the field
  • Loans and grants to help fund child care start-ups and expansions
  • Continued advocacy efforts to highlight the need and advance solutions.

The child care issue will take widespread effort to solve. The Minnesota Initiative Foundations are bringing resources to bear so that every Greater Minnesota child and community can thrive.

Early Childhood Initiative

Early care and education is one of the most important investments communities can make for the future. In 2003, the Minnesota Initiative Foundations (MIFs) joined forces to launch the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative with the goal to ensure that all young children birth to age 5 have the best possible start toward a healthy life of learning, achieving and succeeding. The Minnesota Initiative Foundations secured funding and, in partnership with rural communities, established 90 early childhood coalitions throughout Greater Minnesota. Each coalition was empowered to implement locally driven programs and projects to serve young children and families.

Foundation staff and coalition members also formed a statewide peer-learning group to share progress and best practices. In addition, they formed connections with state-level departments, agencies and organizations. Through the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative, millions of dollars have been raised to support innovative local, regional and statewide work.

The Minnesota Initiative Foundations and their Early Childhood Initiative partners have changed how citizens and policymakers understand and address the needs of our youngest Minnesotans, paving the way for more children to reach their full potential.

Thrive Initiative

Through their collaboration on the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative, the Minnesota Initiative Foundations heard a call from rural communities to strengthen the mental health resources for children birth through age 5 and their families. The social-emotional education, prevention, and intervention services available in Greater Minnesota were sparse, and families with young children often did not know how to access help.

In response, the Minnesota Initiative Foundations created the Minnesota Thrive Initiative in 2007 with six Greater Minnesota pilot sites—one in each rural region. A cross-section of participants from mental health, medical, social and human services, public health, early care and education, and other professions formed local teams. Through the combined efforts of the Minnesota Initiative Foundations, Thrive teams received funding and technical assistance to map existing resources, identify needs and opportunities, facilitate dialogue and cooperation, and implement action plans.

Thrive has expanded awareness about infant and early childhood mental health, strengthened community systems, and improved the way professionals and families work together. Thrive has also resulted in greater collaboration among organizations statewide and created a “place at the table” for rural Minnesota communities to share their perspectives and advocate for the social and emotional needs of young children and their families.

The Minnesota Initiative Foundations partner to promote high-quality early care and education for children birth to age 5 while supporting parents in their important work.

promoting high-quality early care and education for children

Local coalitions connect volunteers, agencies, schools, employers and others to support children and their families.

To date, the early childhood initiative has developed 90 early childhood coalitions in 300 communities across Greater Minnesota.