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Way to Grow

Meet Daya!

Meet Daya! 2560 1921 Way to Grow

“I look like an alligator!” Declares Daya, striking a pose for the camera, donning her green dress and green eyeshadow. It’s a reflective statement of Daya’s personality: creative, energetic, and outgoing. As we spoke with Way to Grow’s latest Scholar, we saw that vibrant personality in action for this superstar student.

Sonia, Daya’s mother, joined the Way to Grow program nearly six years ago, when her eldest, Jaylah, was six. Sonia is grateful for the support that Way to Grow has continuously provided her family throughout these years, offering the tools to provide an opportunity for her children to succeed in school and life.

When Daya faced difficulties with reading, her Way to Grow Family Educator, Amanda, created customized and engaging tactile activities for Daya that best suited her learning style. The combination of specialized home visits and attending after-school reading support put her on a path to success. 

Today, Daya’s a stellar bilingual student naturally inclined to help others. Sonia proudly shares that Daya was a huge help to her teachers in 1st grade by offering to translate instructions to other classmates who speak Spanish! Daya is proud of her accomplishments and continues to grow as a reader. 

From struggling to know her letters to reading books and becoming a pillar of support for her classmates—all it took was a little extra support from Way to Grow to bring out Daya’s full potential.

Go Daya! We cannot wait to see what your future holds!

Way to Grow Book Drive in honor of MLK Day

Way to Grow Book Drive in honor of MLK Day 2548 1442 Way to Grow

Thanks to our friends at KARE11 for sharing this book drive as a way to give back during the month of January! Special thanks to HandsOn Twin Cities and General Mills for helping us collect books for our kiddos—we love seeing the deliveries roll in. You can read the article here!

Check out the book drive and donate your favorite to a Way to Grow family now through January 31!

UCare Foundation awards grants to ensure a healthier new year for youth across Minnesota

UCare Foundation awards grants to ensure a healthier new year for youth across Minnesota 2500 1407 Way to Grow

Way to Grow is thrilled to be one of 12 organizations to receive a UCare Foundation grant to support our work with infants and expecting parents in 2024! With this funding, we will be able to help even more families navigate their new lives as parents, and support the health and development of our youngest community members. Thank you, UCare Foundation!


More than $400,000 provided to initiatives addressing mental health, infant health and dental care

MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 11, 2024 ─ The UCare Foundation is improving health outcomes for newborns and youth of all ages through grants to 12 community organizations serving diverse populations in urban and rural regions of the state. Individual grants range from $6,500 to $50,000.

UCare always steps up where need is greatest. The 2022 Minnesota Student Survey shows unprecedented numbers of young people struggling with their mental health. In 2021, Children’s Minnesota reported a 30% rise in children contemplating suicide. In response, a significant number of the Foundation grants are directed to improve access to mental health services for young people including neurodiverse, LGBTQIA+ and youth with complex needs.

Other grants support the health and safety of vulnerable newborns and access to dental care for youth and families. “Many young Minnesotans suffered mental health setbacks during the pandemic, and through these UCare Foundation grants, we are giving them a fresh start and better outlook in 2024,” says Tenbit Emiru, MD, MBA, PhD, UCare Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. “The range of infant and youth programs funded by UCare have strong potential to address health disparities for Minnesota’s diverse populations – starting at birth.”

Snapshot of UCare-sponsored programs across Minnesota

Mental health

Change the Outcome, an opioid impact awareness initiative for young people in middle schools and high schools throughout Minnesota. UCare’s grant supports educational content to increase understanding of substance use disorder, fentanyl, xylazine and pressed pills – while counteracting stigma, shame and judgment.

Connection to Independence Circle of Support individual and group therapy for foster youth who need additional support for mental health challenges and multiple diagnoses – a partnership with Kente Circle.

CornerHouse Rapid Response to Trauma project providing mental health care to children who have experienced abuse. Funding will support the use of a trauma screening tool to identify the severity of trauma and Accelerated Resolution Therapy, an evidence-based therapy that can be effective in just a few sessions.

Franklin Center Open the Door – a culturally responsive initiative aimed at providing behavior therapy to neurodiverse children in the Somali community.

Nexus Family Healing resources for a new Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility that will address unmet mental health needs of youth in Minnesota. UCare funding enables the purchase of sensory items, recreational equipment, games and art supplies in addition to covering the costs of trauma-informed training and resources.

RECLAIM mental health care for queer and trans youth in Greater Minnesota. This pilot project will fund the hiring of local therapists to expand access to affirming mental health care where resources do not currently exist.

Infant health

Life Connections Community Connections: Safe from the Start, a partnership with public health staff and other community agencies to provide families in Central Minnesota with formula, safe sleep and travel equipment/education. Some of these counties rank among the poorest in the state.

New Beginnings Safe Sleep Program to help reduce the number of infant deaths due to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Parents or primary caregivers participate in free education, and receive a safe crib and sleep sacks, as well as personal support and follow up.

Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) support of 1,079 first-time birthing individuals/families experiencing significant economic and racial inequality across 32 counties and two Tribal Nations in Minnesota. The funding benefits nursing quality, education and practice for 50 NFP nurses providing preventive health care for infants to age 2.

Proof Alliance Our Children are Sacred program to reduce the impact of prenatal exposure to alcohol in Indian Country. Funds go to leveraging the wisdom of tribal leaders and elders and building on the success of current and past programs.

Way to Grow Great by Eight program supporting children ages 0-8 from 600 of the most disadvantaged families in Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs. Great by Eight includes home visits, health screenings and health education to improve birth weights and vaccination rates.

Dental care

Children’s Dental Services expanding culturally targeted, comprehensive oral health care and education to 1,500 Native American and Asian community members across Minnesota, specifically for children, young adults, pregnant women and family members.

About UCare

UCare is an independent, nonprofit health plan providing health care and administrative services to more than 640,000 members throughout Minnesota and parts of western Wisconsin. UCare partners with health care providers, counties, and community organizations to create and deliver Medicare, Medicaid and Individual & Family health plans. The health plan addresses health care disparities and care access issues through a broad array of community initiatives. UCare has received Top Workplaces honors from the Star Tribune for 14 consecutive years since the rankings began in 2010.

About the UCare Foundation

Since 1998, the UCare Foundation has improved the lives of UCare members and their communities through grants that address urgent community health needs. We focus grant-making on initiatives that improve the health of underserved individuals across Minnesota. The UCare Foundation funds high-impact services, education, community outreach and research addressing health equity, social drivers and access barriers.

A Look Back at 2023

A Look Back at 2023 2560 2560 Way to Grow

What a year it has been at Way to Grow! From January through December, we packed our year with family programming, staff collaboration, and community connections. Here are some of our favorite highlights from this busy year:

January

Rise on 7

This year, Way to Grow partnered with CommonBond Communities and Rise Early to launch a new affordable housing community with an early childhood learning center in St. Louis Park.

The Rise on 7 community will offer 120 units of new-construction affordable housing and a ground-floor commercial space being reserved for Rise Early Learning. Rise Early Learning, in collaboration with Way to Grow, will provide on-site childcare and early learning programs for families and community members at Rise on 7. This distinctive partnership is the first of kind in Minnesota and offers much-needed affordable housing and childcare accessibility in the area. A portion of the spots for students will be reserved for residents of Rise on 7, and at more affordable rates than what is typical of childcare services in the Twin Cities.

You can read about the project and its progress in the Star Tribune.

Partnership with Osseo’s Early Childhood and Family Education

In 2023, Way to Grow continued its partnership with Osseo’s Early Childhood and Family Education (EC&FE) through Osseo Area Schools Community Ed. Together, we are providing free parent and child classes in Brooklyn Center, serving parents and children birth to age five.

Each month, families can attend Way to Grow Family Play Time where they can learn and play alongside other Way to Grow families, with structured play activities, songs, movement activities, and stories. Additionally, families can attend a monthly Way to Grow Family Affinity Group where parents can learn, discuss, and explore family topics alongside a community of other parents and caregivers!

Photo credit: Andres Perez

February

Meet Destiny and Sharla

In February, you were all introduced to our latest My Scholar, Destiny, and her Mom, Sharla.

Destiny’s journey with Way to Grow began when she was just two years old, pointing out the Way to Grow Preschool Pals bus each time it drove past her Minneapolis home. After a bit of research, Sharla and Destiny began attending Play to Grow groups with other Way to Grow families.

“Both Destiny and Sharla would attend nearly every week,” remembers Mr. Tony, Destiny and Sharla’s Family Educator. “Over time, Destiny became more confident in herself and started to join in small group activities.” 

These days, Destiny’s lost some baby teeth and is now a vivacious first grader!

Read more of Destiny’s story on our blog!

March

Community Baby Shower

In March, we held the first of five Community Baby Showers in partnership with Broadway Family Medicine in North Minneapolis, and First Care in Richfield. These events celebrated new parents in the community, as well as provided Way to Grow the opportunity to educate parents on important topics like attachment and bonding, safe sleep, as well as their own wellness and self-care with a new baby.

In order to help build a strong foundation for these families, attendees received care packages with critical supplies and resources, including baby books, outlet covers and other home safety supplies, and toys for newborns. Parents also had the opportunity to take home larger gifts like infant seats, hand-made baby blankets, and pack-n-plays. Thanks to our amazing partners, we were able to support over 35 new parents this Spring!

Advocacy for Children Day

In March, 21 caregivers, 25 children, and Way to Grow staff bundled up and headed to the Minnesota State Capitol for Advocacy for Children Day, hosted by the United Way!

Alongside other education advocates from across the state, Way to Grow families showed up to support early childhood care and education in the state of Minnesota. On the policy agenda: expanding access to culturally responsive, trauma-sensitive early child care and education for all children, prenatal to age five!

April

Dresses from Ella

Each spring, the Tushie family gathers dresses for Way to Grow families to remember their youngest daughter, Ella. In April, our office was filled with brand new dresses in every size, shape, and color of the rainbow. 

Family Educators picked out the perfect dresses for each of their families, and delivered them just in time for the warm spring weather. We are so grateful to be a part of this beautiful tradition. Thank you to the Tushie family for all of the smiles these new dresses brought to Way to Grow children!

May

Education is Power

On May 10th, we gathered at the Walker Art Center for our annual Education is Power event! It was a packed room that featured speakers including Way to Grow Board Members Art Rolnick, Senior Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Luis Moreno, Co-Founder at The TCBPN. We were also thrilled to hear from Sharla, a Way to Grow parent. She and her daughter Destiny were featured as a My Scholar earlier in the year, and their story continues to inspire us.

Our keynote speaker was Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed, Superintendent of Hopkins Public Schools. She spoke on how the implementation of Hopkin’s strategic education plan made an incredible impact on students in the district. Much like Way to Grow, Hopkins Schools uses a personalized approach to help each child grow and reach their educational goals. We were so thankful we could hear from one of our own local education leaders making a difference in the lives of families in this community!

Third Grade Graduation

On May 20th, we gathered at North Mississippi Regional Park to recognize our 3rd grade graduates! We celebrated with a picnic lunch, plenty of sweet treats, jumbo yard games, and heartwarming words from our Family Educators.

While our 3rd graders (rightfully) stole the show, this graduation is also a celebration of all the work that families and their Family Educators have done together throughout their time with us. For some, it can feel bittersweet to say goodbye after years with our staff and program. Yet we love nothing more than to watch as families branch out on their own and continue their journeys, knowing we have helped prepare them to succeed in school and life. We are so thankful for the lifelong bonds we have with so many of these amazing kids and their families!

Preschool Pals visit the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

In May, our Preschool Pals classes began a unit on plants, just in time for Minnesota spring! They spent time learning about plant anatomy, their lifecycles, growing food, and gardening. To celebrate the end of the unit, Preschool Pals took a field trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum!

The kids attended the Arboretum’s Ready, Set, Grow! program where they watched a puppet show, looked at bugs under a microscope, released ladybugs into the greenhouse, planted seeds to bring home, and went on a bird watching walk! So many sights, sounds and textures to explore!

June

Way to Grow at the Minnesota Twins

This June, the Minnesota Twins gifted over 250 tickets to Way to Grow families. Folks got to experience either a night game on June 15th or attend a day game on Father’s Day!

With perfect weather and awesome seats looking right over center field, families got to spend time together and meet other Way to Grow families. As a special treat, those who attended on the 15th were even able to enjoy a free T-Pain concert at Target Field after the game!

While the Twins might have lost, spirits were high and fun was had thanks to the Minnesota Twins Community Fund. There’s always next year—go Twins!

July

Meet Ricardo

In July, we met Ricardo—a single dad from El Salvador who is raising his two sons to foster a love of learning and reading in Minnesota.

“He’s a very good dad,” says their Family Educator, Maria. Ricardo remembers meeting Maria for the first time: “Necesitaba mucho apoyo,” shares Ricardo. “I needed a lot of support.” 

Maria’s language-to-language connection has allowed her to build a strong foundation of trust with Ricardo and his boys.

You can read Ricardo’s whole story on our blog!

August

Early Learner Graduation

This August, Way to Grow had the opportunity to celebrate our Early Learner Class of 2023 at the Metropolitan Ballroom. One of our favorite annual celebrations, we watched as these young scholars walked across the stage and were recognized for all their hard work to be ready for kindergarten. Graduates were even able to take home books thanks to the incredible generosity of the Ciresi Walburn Foundation!

Early Learner Graduation is not just a recognition of kindergarten readiness, it is often the first (but not the last!) time parents see their children in a graduation cap and gown. Beyond the portraits and smiles, it is this image that invites families to envision a future where their child has achieved all they could ever dream of becoming, and Way to Grow is committed to making those dreams a reality!

Read more about the achievements of our 2023 graduates on our blog!

Back to School for Preschool Pals

At the end of August, it was back-to-school time for our Preschool Pals students. After a short break, the preschoolers were ready to begin making new friends, learning new skills, and having a ton of fun along the way!

For the littlest kids, time was spent learning their new routine, practicing classroom rules, and learning to play together. The older class was quick to remember the routine and adjusted wonderfully to the new afternoon time. Most of our friends in the PM class have known each other for over a year, so they were excited to see each other again and dive right into the new school year.

You can follow along with our Preschool Pals on our blog, thanks to our Lead Preschool Teacher, Ms. Gwen! 

September

Turning Pages, Changing Lives: Community Children’s Book Drive at the Mall of America

Just in time for back-to-school, Way to Grow partnered with the Mall of America Community Foundation, Thrivent, Barnes & Noble, and Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) to provide a day of fun and learning at the Mall of America!

It was a great day that featured crafts, character meet-and-greets, Nickelodeon Universe rides, and children’s author readings to Way to Grow families, all thanks to the Mall of America Community Foundation. We were also thrilled to be able to send families home with over 100 brand-new books thanks to our friends at Thrivent and Barnes & Noble!

October

Way to Grow Shine Celebration

We kicked off October with our annual Shine Celebration Gala at The Depot in Minneapolis. With speakers Dr. Anne Gearity and Dr. Yohuru Williams, it was an evening that shined bright with celebration, dancing (thanks to the Cypher Side Dancers and Dr. Mambo’s Combo!), and a collective reminder of how hope rooted in humanity can serve the community. Thanks to amazing donors and sponsors, Way to Grow raised over $400,000 in support of our Great By Eight program!

November

Over 20 laptops donated by AT&T

This fall, Way to Grow received a grant from AT&T to help bridge the “digital divide” in our community, helping families connect and learn in our increasingly digital world.

For many families, phones and tablets are the only digital devices in the home, making it difficult for students to learn virtually and for families to connect to the resources they may need. This grant provided funding for laptops and materials to support students in our virtual tutoring initiative, ensuring there would be a laptop in the home for children and families to use every day. A total of 24 laptops were given to Way to Grow families in need of access to digital technology thanks to AT&T’s support!

December

Way to Grow receives a $2 million surprise grant from MacKenzie Scott

We’re still pinching ourselves over the tremendous gift that MacKenzie Scott gave Way to Grow this year! On the impact of such a gift, our CEO, Carolyn Smallwood says, “It’s a game-changer in how organizations can serve more folks.” This new funding will go a long way toward serving over 300 Twin Cities families through our home visiting program!

We join the ranks of 24 Minnesota-based nonprofits to have received funding from Ms. Scott and we are thankful for her incredible vote of confidence in the work we do every day! You can read more about this amazing gift in the Star Tribune and on our blog.

Adopt a Family

Our community showed up for Way to Grow in the final month of the year by donating over 200 gift cards for our families! These gifts helped empower families to purchase needed household items and special gifts and treats, bringing smiles and hope during the holiday season. We are so grateful for the generosity of our supporters and for the opportunity to give something special to families in need.

Way to Grow receives $2 million surprise grant from MacKenzie Scott

Way to Grow receives $2 million surprise grant from MacKenzie Scott 2400 1254 Way to Grow

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott surprises six more Twin Cities nonprofits with $26.1M in gifts

Scott’s foundation announced her latest round of surprise donations to nonprofits nationwide. 

By  Kelly Smith Star Tribune

DECEMBER 6, 2023 — 4:26PM

Six Twin Cities nonprofits are the latest local organizations to be surprised by unexpected gifts from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Scott, an author and the ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, announcedWednesday that she’s donating $26.1 million to six metro area organizations — part of some $2.2 billion in grants she has given to 360 organizations nationwide this year.

“I about fell out of my chair,” said Ann Cazaban, executive director of Southside Community Health Services, of the $2.6 million gift to her small clinic, which serves low-income residents in south Minneapolis. “We don’t get a lot of good surprises like this.”

The largest of the latest local grants is $10 million for City of Lakes Community Land Trust in Minneapolis, which helps provide affordable home ownership opportunities.

The other local grantees and their awards are Project for Pride in Living (PPL), an affordable housing developer in Minneapolis, $7 million; Battered Women’s Justice Project, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that provides national training and resources, $2.5 million; Hmong American Partnership in St. Paul, $2 million; and Way to Grow, a Minneapolis-based organization that provides early childhood education, $2 million.

That’s on top of a $2 million grant that Think Small, a Little Canada-based nonprofit that administers early-learning scholarships, received from Scott in September.

Since 2020, Scott has given more than $109 million to 24 Minnesota-based nonprofits, a number taken from her database of grants and the recipients’ own statements.

Six Twin Cities nonprofits are the latest local organizations to be surprised by unexpected gifts from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Scott, an author and the ex-wife of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, announcedWednesday that she’s donating $26.1 million to six metro area organizations — part of some $2.2 billion in grants she has given to 360 organizations nationwide this year.

“I about fell out of my chair,” said Ann Cazaban, executive director of Southside Community Health Services, of the $2.6 million gift to her small clinic, which serves low-income residents in south Minneapolis. “We don’t get a lot of good surprises like this.”

The largest of the latest local grants is $10 million for City of Lakes Community Land Trust in Minneapolis, which helps provide affordable home ownership opportunities.

The other local grantees and their awards are Project for Pride in Living (PPL), an affordable housing developer in Minneapolis, $7 million; Battered Women’s Justice Project, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that provides national training and resources, $2.5 million; Hmong American Partnership in St. Paul, $2 million; and Way to Grow, a Minneapolis-based organization that provides early childhood education, $2 million.

That’s on top of a $2 million grant that Think Small, a Little Canada-based nonprofit that administers early-learning scholarships, received from Scott in September.

Since 2020, Scott has given more than $109 million to 24 Minnesota-based nonprofits, a number taken from her database of grants and the recipients’ own statements.

Unlike most major philanthropists, Scott surprises nonprofits with unsolicited donations that often add up to record-setting gifts for them. The gifts are unrestricted, meaning that nonprofits can spend the money any way they want. They don’t have to navigate lengthy applications or reporting requirements, as with most grants.

Scott, 53, has an estimated net worth of about $39 billion (according to Forbes magazine) and has pledged to give away most of it in her lifetime. But her generosity is shrouded in secrecy; she hasn’t spoken publicly about her philanthropy, and the public usually only finds out about the grants when nonprofits disclose the news.

Last fall, Andriana Abariotes, Project for Pride in Living’s vice president of development, received an e-mail from a consultant asking to set up a meeting to discuss an unnamed private donor’s possible donation.

“It almost seemed like a phishing thing,” she said.

PPL had a $6 million deficit last year and was on track to end this year with a deficit as well, possibly forcing layoffs. But after sharing some financials with the consultant, Abariotes said they were notified they’d get $7 million from Scott — a record amount for a one-time donation to the nonprofit.

That will help close the budget gaps and prevent layoffs while also paying down some debt, supporting employees’ pay and training, and helping close the final funding gaps on development projects as construction costs and interest rates rise.

“It’s transformative for us at a really critical time,” said Paul Williams, CEO of Project for Pride in Living. “I particularly appreciate philanthropy that thinks big.”

In September, Cazaban got a similarly cryptic email out of the blue. In a brief meeting, she was informed of the $2.6 million gift, also a record amount for the Southside clinic — equaling about 40% of the donations it gets in an entire year.

“Little Southside in south Minneapolis, how would they even find us?” she said. “They didn’t ask any questions about anything. They had already done all their due diligence.”

Cazaban said it’s a mystery why Scott’s foundation selected her organization. In past blog posts, Scott has said she’s focused on organizations dedicated to equity and the needs of underrepresented people.

“Inspired by all the ways people work together to offer each other goodwill and support,” Scott wrote online in a short three-sentence announcement Wednesday about the grants.

Southside, which provides dental, medical and vision care for low-income residents, will use Scott’s donation to help fund construction of a new 30,000-square-foot affordable community health center off E. Lake Street. The clinic will break ground in 2024 and open the center by mid-2025 on the site of a former Family Dollar store that burned down in the civil unrest following George Floyd’s murder in 2020.

The nearly $30 million project will allow Southside to expand services and serve more people, helping 18,000 a year. More than a third of its clients are children.

For small nonprofits, a Scott donation is a big boost for supporting staff and programs, said Carolyn Smallwood, CEO of Way to Grow.

“It’s a game-changer in how organizations can serve more folks,” she said, adding that the $2 million Way to Grow received from Scott last spring will help it serve 300 more families a year with early childhood education via home visits.

The Battered Women’s Justice Project will use its gift to beef up its reserves and boost its programming, possibly by adding more staffing, CEO Amy Sanchez said.

Getting such a significant gift from Scott is a vote of confidence for Twin Cities nonprofits, Abariotes said, and may possibly inspire other philanthropists. Cazaban said she hopes Scott’s philanthropy will help change how other foundations give out money, perhaps reducing the typically rigorous process of applying for grants and reporting results.

Scott’s foundation “said, ‘We trust you will use this money toward the mission and help as many people as you can,’ ” Cazaban said. “It’s a very unusual way.”

Minnesota nonprofits receiving surprise grants from MacKenzie Scott 

According to Scott’s website, yieldgiving.com, and individual nonprofits’ announcements, she’s given more than $95 million in the last three years to these Minnesota nonprofits:

  • Southside Community Health Services, $2.6 million (2023)
  • Project for Pride in Living, $7 million (2023)
  • City of Lakes Community Land Trust, $10 million (2023)
  • Hmong American Partnership, $2 million (2023)
  • Way to Grow, $2 million (2023) 
  • Think Small, $2 million (2023)
  • Battered Women’s Justice Project, $2.5 million (2023)
  • Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys, $4.2 million (2022)
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, $4.8 million (2022)
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities, $6 million (2022)
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Minnesota, $1.5 million (2022)
  • Red Lake Nation Boys & Girls Club, $875,000 (2022)
  • Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, $13.5 million (2022)
  • Dakota Medical Foundation, $10 million (2022)
  • Boys and Girls Club of White Earth, $1.25 million (2022)
  • Junior Achievement North, $1.9 million (2022)
  • YMCA of the North, $18 million (2021)
  • Penumbra Theatre, $5 million (2021)
  • Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, $7 million (2021)
  • YWCA St. Paul, $3 million (2021)
  • Duluth Area Family YMCA, undisclosed amount (2020)
  • YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties, $10 million (2020)
  • Esperanza United, undisclosed amount (2020)
  • YWCA Cass Clay, $2 million (2020)

Living Generously: Ways of Giving at Year-End

Living Generously: Ways of Giving at Year-End 2560 1707 Way to Grow

Way to Grow is thankful for the financial support we receive that ensures children are born healthy, stay healthy, are prepared for school, and reading by third grade. This year, we are on course to deliver over 12,000 home visits to families in our community who are committed to their children’s literacy.

Want to join our family of supporters? It’s easy! There are many ways to give that will fuel our mission.

Go Online

With a few keystrokes here, you can make a one-time gift or set up an automatic monthly gift that will continue as long as you wish. Either way, we are grateful for your gift!

Mail Us a Check

We love receiving checks! Please mail your gift to Way to Grow, 201 Irving Avenue North, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55405. Your envelope will put a song in our hearts.

Shares of Stock

If you own stock that has grown in value—and that you’ve held for one year or longer—it may be tax-wise to transfer the shares to Way to Grow (rather than selling them). Here’s why:

  • First, you’ll avoid paying capital gains tax on the shares’ growth, and so will Way to Grow, which receives 100% of the proceeds tax-free as a charitable organization.
  • Second, you’ll enjoy a tax deduction for the increased full fair market value of the shares.
  • Third, it is nice to make a meaningful gift without draining your checkbook. For details, call us at 612.874.4740 and ask for Kim Bowman.

Try a QCD

If you are age 70-1/2 or older, you can support Way to Grow through a gift directly from your IRA! A Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) bypasses your federal tax return, so it is not counted as income, nor deducted as a gift. Even better, you are using pre-tax dollars to make a gift so the gift costs you less. You can give up to $100,000 each year to qualified charities this way, using already saved up dollars to serve neighbors in need. You can also add Way to Grow to your IRA beneficiary designation form to provide support after your lifetime—and become a member of our Shine Legacy Society. If you’d like assistance, please give us a phone call at 612.874.4740 and ask for Kim Bowman. 

Way to Grow cherishes gifts of all types and sizes. You have our heartfelt thanks for generously supporting our vision to ensure that every child has an opportunity to succeed in school and in life. Happy Holidays!

Preschool Pals Update: A Fabulous Fall

Preschool Pals Update: A Fabulous Fall 600 450 Way to Grow

An update from Ms. Gwen, Way to Grow’s Lead Preschool Teacher.

Our Preschool Class started off the month of October with an introduction to our Friends Unit. We learned basic skills about what a good friend does and how to make friends. We read books like “Can I Play Too?” by Mo Willems, “The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister and “Bear’s New Friend” by Karma Wilson. In these books we learned valuable lessons on making friends, sharing and what it means to work together. 
The following week we discussed red and green choice and the consequences of the actions we choose. These choices help the kiddos easily recognize rules and pausing before acting. 

We entered the season of Fall! Our classes spent a lot of time outside watching the changing colors by taking walks in our neighborhood and playing in the leaves. The kiddos favorite part was watching them fall. 

Our PM class was finally able to harvest our produce we grew in the garden this Summer. We grew some healthy looking cucumbers, cut and ate them for snack. To our surprise the kids loved them! We had lots of requests for a third serving. 

October was a big month for crafts! We decorated our classroom with painted leaves, pumpkins, window art and sparkly apples. The kiddos loved these projects! There will be lots more art projects for the future! 

At the end of the month we took a field trip to Fall Harvest Orchard. It was a cold and windy trip but the kids still enjoyed themselves. Our classes took a hayride through the orchards, played in the corn pit, fed cows and goats, slid down the giant slide and went on an apple ride. 

We ended our month making glow in the dark slime!

Preschool Pals Update: And We’re Off!…

Preschool Pals Update: And We’re Off!… 600 450 Way to Grow

An update from Ms. Gwen, Way to Grow’s Lead Preschool Teacher.

The AM and PM classes started off the school year adjusting to the new class schedule, making friends and getting to know the teachers! For our littlest ones, in the AM class, learning the new routine was a challenge. Not to our surprise, the kids caught on very fast. Problem solving skills and communication were at the forefront of our first two weeks. We worked on basic concepts like; asking before taking, identifying emotions, following directions, listening to others, learning to play together and red/green choices.

The PM class were quick to remember the routine and adjusted wonderfully to the new afternoon time. Most of our friends in the PM class have known each other for over a year. Understanding basic concepts was something they worked on last year. So, our main focus was diving into our Family Unit! Weeks 1 and 2 we learned about what a family is and who is in our family. The kids took the time to draw out their families and talk about why they love the people they live with. The kids spent lots of time playing house, having weddings, cooking meals and caring for the babies in the classroom.

Weeks 3 and 4 we spent time talking about family diversity. Many of our families at Way To Grow come from different backgrounds. We talked about cultures, holidays, physical attributes, food, language and family structures. Our last week of the unit, we talked about different ways families spend time and work together. We celebrated our last day of summer with a picnic in the park and popsicles! Our unit was just one of the many activities that kept us busy in the classroom this month. We have daily lessons in counting, letters, sounds, rhyming, alliteration, patterns, calendar, weather, reading, music, STEM and much more! 

Not only have we been busy in school, but also outside of school, with two preschool events just this month! Our first event was our Parent-Child class with a quick briefing on nutrition and encouraging kiddos to try new foods. Our second event was held by Ready, Set, Smile. This program provided onsite dental services, oral health classroom education and referral services. We are looking forward to working with them in the near future to continue care for our class. Thank you to all the families that attended these events! 
    
Cheers to the new year! 🙂 

Meet Maurice!

Meet Maurice! 1707 2560 Way to Grow

On a chilly Saturday in March, Maurice’s laughter fills Way to Grow’s playroom. Wearing a dragon onesie, Maurice (7) is eager to show off his reading skills to his sister, Lizzy (10), and his mom, Mary. When asked about Maurice’s progress, Mary smiles and says:

“It’s a complete 180. Way to Grow gave him confidence.” 

Last year, Maurice was struggling to stay focused in kindergarten. Big emotions led to classroom outbursts and frustrating suspensions, and Mary found herself often leaving work to pick Maurice up from school early. With the right tools and support, Mary knew Maurice had the potential to succeed.

Mary reached out to Way to Grow and met Roxy, who became her family’s Way to Grow Family Educator. Roxy quickly got to work, researching ways to customize the Way to Grow curriculum to capture Maurice’s trust and attention.

According to Mary, working with Roxy has been transformative. Through listening games like “Roxy says” and plenty of space to focus, Maurice became familiar with Roxy and quickly began having more positive reactions during home visits. 

Mary has learned a lot this year, too. Her most important lesson? “Patience,” she says. “How to be more patient as a parent and knowing when to get help.” 

Mary is a vocal parent advocate for Lizzy and Maurice, and her hard work has paid off. In just one year, Maurice’s reading speed has tripled!

Now, Maurice is proud to be a leader and a helper in his first grade classroom. When he learns something new in school, he’s eager to tell Roxy. Mary laughs: “He’s always asking when Roxy will visit so he can show off.” 

It’s no doubt that Maurice has a bright future ahead. We can’t wait to see how far he goes! 

Preschool Pals Update: A Summer Summary!

Preschool Pals Update: A Summer Summary! 600 800 Way to Grow

An update from Ms. Gwen, Way to Grow’s Lead Preschool Teacher.

In mid-June, our class started the summer with a games unit. The kids learned how to play kick ball, Connect 4, Candy Land, Busytown, and Go Fish. Many of these games involved winning and losing. The big emotions that came with losing created a beautiful opportunity to problem solve and cope with one of life’s biggest obstacles.

Throughout the summer our class continued to read and study author and illustrator Mo Willems. The kids learned to identify characters, settings, problems and solutions. Their favorite book was “Watch Me Throw the Ball!”

By the end of June, Ms. Gwen had many requests to bake cookies. Each class worked together to bake chocolate chip banana bread. Their favorite parts were smashing the bananas and sitting down to eat the finished product.

During the third week of July, the class took a trip to the Como Zoo! The kids spent time with their families looking at some of their favorite animals and watching a Sparky the Seal show. ​

To end the month of July the kids played with shaving cream, made sandcastles, watered the garden and had a surprise visit from the ice cream man.


To start the month of August, our class took some time to talk about big transitions. The morning class learned about what it would be like moving up to the afternoon. And the afternoon class talked about graduating and going to a new school for kindergarten! We watched Inside Out, which talked all about the emotions that come with a big move. 

We wrapped up our summer with our end of the school year celebration at the park. On our last day of school we had a water balloon fight, made ice cream, handed out awards and said goodbye to many of our kids. It was a whirlwind of a summer that ended in a sweet way. All the best to our little graduates!

​See you next year!

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