Event Recap

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It’s a Wrap on Summer Reads! (Plus, 6 Other Tips for Summertime Learning)

It’s a Wrap on Summer Reads! (Plus, 6 Other Tips for Summertime Learning) 5038 2726 Chelsea DeLong

6 Tips for Summertime Learning

  1. Visit a library and READ!
  2. Do math-based activities at home: cooking, counting, board games
  3. Visit parks, museums, zoos (and see if they offer family discounts or free visit programs!)
  4. Set time aside daily to work on academic skills
  5. Have FUN and be ENGAGED! Practice flashcards, get outside, play games with your children’s friends
  6. If traveling, have workbooks and games for the car
  7. Enroll your kids in Way to Grow’s “Summer Reads” program!

From July 6th through August 15th, Way to Grow partnered with Literacy Minnesota to implement Summer Reads programming! Summer Reads has again been the perfect opportunity for 20 participants to experience the joys of summer while staying on track for the upcoming school year with extra programming and literacy support. Twice a week for 30 minutes a day, each student worked with Allie, our Summer Reads tutor, through a tailored tutoring lesson.

Our pre-K students worked on a combination of rhyming, alliteration, and letter sounds. K-3rd grade students worked on reading through a Reading A-Z level book. Allie offered error corrections and asked comprehension questions along the way, and, at the end of the lesson, Allie read them a book of their choosing!

A big accomplishment of the summer was Allie gathering hundreds of books to give away to students in our year-round tutoring program. Additionally, all 20 of the Summer Reads students received 5-6 books from Allie. It’s a fantastic start to each child’s library!

One of Allie’s favorite parts of this job was working directly with the children in the program and found practicing skills such as self-confidence, resiliency, and communication with students rewarding.

While some students were nervous to begin, Allie helped them grow their confidence through patience and fun tutoring sessions, customized individually for each unique student.

“The biggest challenge I’ve seen a few children overcome in just a few short weeks is shyness and anxiety about meeting with me. One child wouldn’t even come on screen for several minutes of our first session together. She was crying and telling her parent that she didn’t want to do it. By the end of the session, she was smiling and laughing!”

Way to Grow continuously looks for ways to uplift families and to help parents be their child’s number one teacher. Our Summer Reads program is one of many ways to give children an extra boost of encouragement and guidance as they prepare to start school ready to learn and grow.

While we say goodbye to Allie and Summer Reads, we’re gearing up for the start of a new school year with more families to serve than ever before. We’re ready for you, 2022-2023 school year!

Give to the Max Day success!

Give to the Max Day success! 600 600 Maren Nelson

Thank you for your contributions to Way to Grow to our Give to the Max Campaign. With your help, we raised over $7,300—with $5,000 of your gifts matched by one of our generous sponsors! 

Many families are facing difficult times this year, and our Family Educators are going above and beyond to keep connecting with the families as children are learning from home. Your generosity on Give to the Max Day supported our efforts to ensure that children within the most isolated families are born healthy, stay healthy and are prepared for school. We couldn’t do it without you!

Thanks for shining with us!

Thanks for shining with us! 2500 1309 Way to Grow

On Friday, September 25 Way to Grow hosted its first virtual Gala – “Let’s Connect” Shine Celebration. Together, we raised over $305,000 to fund our Great by Eight program, stabilizing families and providing education to those who need it most. If you would still like to help us meet our goal, please consider a gift now.  

A special shout out to T. Mychael Rambo, Jearlyn and Jevetta Steele, Doug Baker Ecolab CEO and Chairman of the Board and Megan Newquist, KSTP for shining with us during this special event.  Our event sponsors, table ambassadors and virtual guests allowed us to make the most of a virtual celebration and raise much needed dollars. Thank you!

Shine Celebration 2019

Shine Celebration 2019 1800 1200 Angelique McDonald

Our 30th Anniversary Shine Celebration on October 26, 2019 was an enormous success! Thanks to the support of our generous donors and our extraordinary volunteers and staff, Way to Grow raised over $400,000!

The 2019 Shine Celebration was a bedazzled evening of spectacular moments. The stars were out that night, with incredible performances by Jamecia Bennett, Dennis Spears, and T.Mychael Rambo peppered throughout the evening. One particular highlight was a performance by T.Mychael and our very own Way to Grow children—they were a smash! With a storybook song written just for us, T.Mychael positively mesmerized the audience while sharing the 30-year history of Way to Grow.

We were also delighted to welcome special guest speaker, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan to our celebration. During her keynote, she spoke about the importance of early education and the access for all children in the community. She also discussed how Way to Grow’s model has proven to be successful and stressed how education should be part of all that we do to support families and children in our communities.

One touching moment that stuck with us was listening to Bryanna Lopez, a Way to Grow alumna. Bryanna was joined on stage by her father, and spoke eloquently about how her family’s time with Way to Grow set them up for success by changing how they approached education as a family. Now a college sophomore studying bio engineering, we couldn’t be more proud!

The excitement ramped up with a Live Auction event that boasted trips to Scottsdale and Tuscany, great tickets to sporting events, and more. The money raised set the tone for a night of incredible generosity. Hundreds of guests showed amazing support all evening. Through donations of all sizes, live and silent auctions, and event sponsorships, we were able to raise over $400,000. Wow!

We at Way to Grow want to express our gratitude for all who came and supported our mission during our 30th Anniversary Shine Celebration. Thank you and we will see you in 2020!

Preschool Pals Has Begun!

Preschool Pals Has Begun! 756 549 Angelique McDonald

This September, our preschool in North Minneapolis, Preschool Pals, held their first Parent-Child class for the school year. Preschool Pals hosts Parent-Child classes throughout the year, with near-perfect attendance by families. Each class centers around a theme that impacts families every day. This class focused on nutrition.

Lead by our preschool staff, the class was facilitated with the help of University of Minnesota Health & Nutrition Program Educator, Ms. Selah Michele. She spoke to parents about helping children try new foods and keeping them engaged with their food choices by including them in snack prep. She also gave parents tips for providing healthy snack options and answered personal questions from the families. 

The class concluded the session by making their own snack: fruit salsa with cinnamon chips. Parents then went home with a few recipes that they could try with their children. Yum! 

Festival of Fathers

Festival of Fathers 1143 751 Angelique McDonald

We believe every caregiver should be supported in their journey of raising a child. In a show of support for dads in our community, Way to Grow participated in Festival of Fathers at North Commons Park in North Minneapolis this past August. The annual Festival of Fathers is a community sponsored event that seeks to strengthen the positive role and perception of men, specifically fathers, in their families and communities. The event celebrated the essential impact of fathers and father figures in the lives of children and families. Families enjoyed free food, music, entertainment, a petting zoo, pony rides, a moon bounce, prize drawings, and a free t-shirt for dads with kids. We had a great time supporting families and getting out into our community!

What are some ways that you show support for all the types of caregivers in your family?

Backpacks are back!

Backpacks are back! 960 720 Angelique McDonald

An annual tradition was back again this year. On August 14, Way to Grow staff, in partnership with the Greater Twin Cities United Way and SPS Commerce, packed 1,200 backpacks in 30 minutes! Each backpack was filled with school supplies and distributed to families across the Twin Cities. Thanks to our community partners, we filled our school bus with 350 backpacks that were given out to Way to Grow children just in time for the first day of school!

A huge shoutout to our friends at Greater Twin Cities United Way and SPS Commerce for getting our kids ready for school!

2019 Graduations!

2019 Graduations! 1250 834 Angelique McDonald

Summer at Way to Grow is always an exciting time. Read on to hear about our recent 3rd Grade and Early Learner Graduations, and don’t forget to check out all those great smiling faces below!

3rd Grade Graduation

In June, we honored over 60 third graders and their families as we celebrated their graduation from our Great By Eight program. For some, it was bittersweet as they said goodbye to Family Educators that had worked with them since infancy. Yet for many others it was a time to say “see you soon,” knowing their younger siblings would keep their Family Educators busy for years to come.

Families were invited to a fun night of games, crafts, food, and celebration. Each child was presented with a certificate, goodie bag, and a book, and parents and caregivers were recognized for all the work the entire family put in to getting their kids set up for success. It truly takes a village.

Congratulations, 3rd graders! We have loved having you in our program and know you will go on to do amazing things in this world!

Early Leader Graduation

One month later on July 28, over 100 preschoolers graduated from our early learner program. With over 500 people in attendance, we had a blast as our preschoolers walked across the stage, families ate a meal together, and everyone played games, made crafts, and put temporary tattoos everywhere!

This event is always a highlight of the year because it truly reminds us of the importance of the work that Way to Grow does every day. For these children, this is the first of many graduations and it inspires families to keep working towards a brighter future. We are so incredibly proud of the work these families have done so far and cannot wait to see how they continue to grow in the years to come!

We want to extend heartfelt thanks to all who made these wonderful celebrations possible:

Thank you to all the Way to Grow parents and guardians for your work and commitment to your child’s education. To our Way to Grow Family Educators and staff, thank you for all your hard work, enthusiasm, and dedication. None of this could happen without you. Finally, thank you to our volunteers, the Way to Grow Board of Directors, and our funders for your continued support.

A special thank you to Books to Grow and Minneapolis City of Lakes Rotary Club for providing books for our graduates and families!

2019 Spring Luncheon a Success!

2019 Spring Luncheon a Success! 2500 1250 Susan Cossette

On Wednesday, May 8, more than 200 people joined us for our Annual Spring Luncheon at the Walker Art Center.  Funds raised at the event support Way to Grow’s Spring mission of ensuring that every child is born healthy, stays healthy, and is prepared to succeed in school and life.

We were honored to welcome Dr. Kathlene Holmes Campbell as this this year’s keynote speaker.  As Dr. Campbell noted during her remarks, it is important for us all to work together to ensure that all children receive a quality education.  We need to allow students’ voices to be heard in the classroom, and for educators to dream big.  Moreover, it is crucial for us to value and promote diversity in order to provide high-quality education that values all individuals and their experiences.

“Collectively, we have the answers,” said Dr. Campbell.  “It just depends on whether we decide to move forward together.”

Way to Grow helps give children a strong start by connecting some of our community’s most isolated families to the resources they need and establish a more secure position at home, in school, and within the community.

Again, we are most grateful for the support of our generous donors:  You are truly helping us move forward together to transform lives!

Thank you to our 2019 Spring Luncheon Sponsors!

2019 Advocacy Day for Children

2019 Advocacy Day for Children 2560 1920 Ken Story

Advocacy for Children Day celebrates early learning and gives parents, teachers, early care and education professionals, and communities from across the state an opportunity to come together and be a voice for Minnesota’s children.

As part of Way to Grow’s My Voice Matters initiative, led by the MinneMinds Coalition, our staff and members of families we serve rallied at the Capitol in support of equitable, child-centered, parent-directed, mixed delivery approaches to state policies affecting families and children.

The 2019 policy agenda of MinneMinds leads efforts to improve and support: 

Quality: Parent Aware and Kindergarten Entry Profile

  • Fully fund Parent Aware to continue the expansion of high-quality early learning programs throughout Minnesota with a priority on stronger recognition and incorporation of culturally relevant needs.
  • Support and fund state-wide expansion and implementation of a culturally and linguistically relevant Kindergarten Entry Profile (KEP) via approved assessment tools.

Access: Early Learning Scholarships

  • Support efforts to expand scholarships that meet the needs of low-income children from birth to 5 years old and prioritize children with the highest needs.
  • Make early learning scholarships more flexible to ensure children and families have access to quality early learning.

Access: Home Visiting

  • Increase access, flexibility, and funding for targeted home visiting programs.
  • Increase collaboration and coordination among home visiting and early childhood providers to improve outcomes for families.

Access: Provider Pipeline and Workforce Growth

  • Increase funding for grants, tax credits, and policies for early childhood providers.

Access: Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP)

  • Support family and provider-friendly provisions of federal reauthorization and serve more CCAP eligible families.
  • Ensure CCAP eligibility and access for families who are experiencing homelessness.

Way to Grow attendees received a tour of the Capitol, heard from legislators, experts in the education field, and other parents on the impact that early education has on their lives and our communities. Lastly, everyone in attendance was given a call to action and tips on how to contact their legislators when advocating for early education.  Find those tips here, and to learn more about Way to Grow’s My Voice Matters initiative, contact Megan McLaughlin at 612-874-4740, or at mmclaughlin@mplswaytogrow.org.

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