Of Note

 A category for reposting any articles, studies, stories, etc that relate to Way to Grow. For example, a local news article about the achievement gap in MN or a national study about the benefits of early childhood education.
 Include some commentary on the content of the information rather than simply reposting it.
 Include a link to the original location of the piece.
 Since links can become obsolete, consider copying/pasting the full piece or pulling out just the relevant information. If you do this, make sure it’s clear that you are quoting the piece and not trying to claim ownership of the content.

2014 In Review

2014 In Review 150 150 Ivy Marsnik
In 2014, we:

  • Had 88% of all Way to Grow preschoolers pass kindergarten readiness assessments for the second year in a row.
  • Opened our second preschool in South Minneapolis (Preschool P.A.L.S) at Urban Ventures, with a focus on educating both preschoolers and parents.
  • Celebrated serving our first cohort of third graders completing our Great by Eight program expansion.
  • Expanded our health and nutrition program resulting in both parents and children incorporating more nutritious food in their meal planning while increasing healthy behaviors.

Consider including Way to Grow in your year-end giving and make a tax-deductible donation today.

Donate now to put more parents and children on the path to success in 2015.

Thank you and happy new year!

Together, we will make a difference.

Inside a Home Visit

Inside a Home Visit 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

With President Obama’s recent announcement to invest $750 million in preschool and childcare programs across the country, early learning is front and center, bringing home visiting into the national spotlight.  Most of us, however, don’t directly participate in home visiting, leaving questions of what all it entails and why it is so effective.  Today, we invite you to step inside a home visit with a Way to Grow family.

On a cold December night as most of Minneapolis is rushing home from work, Marie has just arrived at a small apartment building hidden away behind the busy streets of one of the city’s “hippest” neighborhoods.  Though greeted cheerfully at the door like an old family friend, there’s much more to this visit as told by the bulk of Marie’s tote.  Kevin, a kindergartner at Windom, and his parents were one of Marie’s first families when she started with Way to Grow two years ago.  As first generation Ecuadorian immigrants, parents Sophia and Marcos count on Marie to bridge the language and cultural gaps between home, school, and the community.

Following a warm and lively welcome, we were embraced by the enticing aroma of dinner being cooked by Sophia.  Everyone filed into the living room that doubles as the family’s bedroom and sat cross-legged on the floor.  Marie jumps into lesson mode as an adult friend of the family nonchalantly joins in, taking a spot on the neatly made bed.

The family watches Marie pull the small, lined dry-erase board out of her bag and Kevin springs up to find the marker she had left behind at their last visit.  “I only have a couple, so take good care of it and make sure you use it,” Marie had instructed.   Kevin impressively had safely kept it and proudly handed it off after writing his name on the board.

Following several fun learning activities, Marie gives dad and Kevin sight-word bingo cards, keeping one for herself.  Two months ago, Kevin recognized just two out of 100 English sight-words.  Today, he recognizes at least 30 more with confidence.  “Kevin is doing so well, have you been practicing?!” Marie asks Marcos.  “Si!” he exclaims as Kevin continues to draw and read aloud sight-words from the bag.  About halfway through the game, Kevin had memorized the words remaining on all three bingo cards demonstrating a high level of engagement and enthusiasm for learning.

Joining us from the kitchen, Sophia brought a certificate Kevin had received at school.  “It’s for perfect attendance!  Kevin did not miss any days of school!” Marie celebrated this success with the family, and congratulated a beaming Kevin and proud parents.  Marie then handed Sophia a stack of books in Spanish, appropriate for Kevin’s reading level.  She encourages the parents to read with Kevin and his younger brother, Jack.

Exchanging gratitude and salutations, it’s clear that relationships are the driving force behind successful home visits.

“Kevin has come a long way in his learning over the past two years, as have his parents,” Marie tells me outside, “They will always hold a special place in my heart.”  Last year, Kevin was among the 88% of Way to Grow kids deemed ready for kindergarten.  Marie, passionate about the work she is doing, heads off to the next home visit.

SightWords.com is packed with free games and tools to help parents and educators teach sight words to kids. To access some of the games and tools used by Way to Grow during Home Visits, please visit www.sightwords.com/sight-words/games.

Making a Difference

Making a Difference 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

JaquelineMeet Jacqueline.  We hope to make Jacqueline’s holiday brighter by raising $2,500; enough to cover one full year of home visits and comprehensive programming with Way to Grow.  Jacqueline’s parents are from Togo, a small, tropical sub-Saharan country in West Africa. Edoh, Jacqueline’s mother has a goal for her children that many of us share. “Our educational goal for our daughter,” she says, “is that she will choose a career that makes her happy.” Jacqueline beams as she tells us, “I want to be a doctor so I can check my mom’s heart, teeth, ears, and mouth to be sure she is healthy.”

Jacqueline passed the school readiness assessment this past spring joining the 88% of Way to Grow children deemed ready for kindergarten! She participated in our Early Learning graduation ceremony this summer, lighting up her white cap and gown! Now in kindergarten, she is very excited to finally attend the same school as her big sister, Grace.  Grace has told Jacqueline so many fun and exciting stories about Bancroft Community School that she could hardly wait for it to begin this fall!

Jacqueline’s parents tell us they love Way to Grow for, “The way they teach. They come into my home and educate the whole family. They are flexible and are available to come when I am not at work, even if that is a Saturday morning.”  Sponsor Jacqueline as part of our My Scholar initiative this holiday season, and give one child the one gift that can never be taken back.

We cannot thank you enough for your support .
Together, we will make a difference!

Join us in the Great Minnesota GIVE Together

Join us in the Great Minnesota GIVE Together 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

The season of giving is upon us!  In honor of our 25 years of success, our goal for this year’s Give to the Max Day is to have 25 supporters donate $25 or more.  Can you help us meet and exceed that goal?  We know you can! 

Give to the Max Day has become a Minnesota ritual,” says Dana Nelson, executive director of GiveMN. “For 24 hours, thousands of organizations and individuals rally to support amazing and important causes in Minnesota to make our state a great place for everyone. What’s not to love about that?”

Please schedule your gift today by filling out the form below, then share with your networks!  Together, we will make a difference.   #GTMD14

Rising to the Challenge

Rising to the Challenge 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Could you feed four on just $10 and one in store coupon?  Sound like a piece of cake?  How about including at least one item from each of the five food groups with the same amount?

Welcome to the $10 grocery challenge!

Our first group of parents to participate in the challenge successfully accomplished just that last night with the help of Family Educator, Collette.  Collette is one of six Family Educators who will lead at least one grocery tour this month with the goal of increasing access to and awareness of healthy living.  “By starting with parent education, we’ll see a definite trickle-down effect.  Not only can those parents lead and inform others in their own families and in their communities, but their children pick up on those healthy habits as well.  We want our kids to be healthy.  When they don’t have healthy diets, they really aren’t ready for school,” Collette explains.

The grocery tours are not only a part of Way to Grow’s holistic approach, but are completed in conjunction with our six-week Cooking Matters program led in partnership with the University of Minnesota Extension Services and funded by Cargill.  Another Cooking Matters series kicks off tomorrow.  We’re excited to give more parents and families the opportunity to learn to cook healthy meals together, one plate at a time.

Way to Grow Celebrates Historic Milestone

Way to Grow Celebrates Historic Milestone 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Talking to Your Baby Early and Often

Talking to Your Baby Early and Often 150 150 Way to Grow

A recent Associated Press article highlights the importance of the work that our Family Educators have been doing for years. During home visits, Way to Grow’s Family Educators work to encourage our parents to talk to their children (regardless of their age) throughout the day. This exposure to words and conversations has a tremendous impact on a child’s development.

As writer Lauran Neergaard reports, “New research shows that both how much and how well parents talk with babies and toddlers help to tune the youngsters’ brains in ways that build crucial language and vocabulary skills — a key to fighting the infamous “word gap” that puts poor children at a disadvantage at an even younger age than once thought.”

To read the full article from Friday’s Star Tribune, click here.

Beyond School Hours

Beyond School Hours 150 150 Way to Grow

Next week, Way to Grow’s Executive Director, Carolyn Smallwood, and Director of Early Education, Carrie Zelin Johnson, will travel to Atlanta to give a presentation on our home visiting model to attendees of the Beyond School Hours conference. Now in its 17th year, the Beyond School Hours conference is one of the nation’s largest and most inspiring education conferences. We’re excited to be returning for the second year in a row to present two breakout sessions.

read more

Invest Now or Pay More Later: A Conversation about Early Childhood with Economist Dr. Art Rolnick

Invest Now or Pay More Later: A Conversation about Early Childhood with Economist Dr. Art Rolnick 150 150 Way to Grow

 

Way to Grow Board Member Dr. Art Rolnick, the Co-Director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, recently joined Marti and Erin Erickson, co-hosts of Mom Enough, in their studio. As usual, Art spoke eloquently about the importance of investing in early learning programs. We’re so grateful to have Art’s support.

To hear the interview, click here.

On their blog and in frequent interviews, Marti and Erin explore the many facets of motherhood in today’s world – from confronting the daily joys and struggles of helping kids grow up well, to balancing work and family, to considering the big questions of how society views and values mothers and mothering. Follow along at momenough.com.

U of M Economist Publishes Study on Early Ed

U of M Economist Publishes Study on Early Ed 150 150 Way to Grow

Courtesy of University of Minnesota / MinnPost

University of Minnesota professor Aaron Sojourner recently published a study in The Journal of Human Resources centered on the role that high quality pre-k programs can have in tackling the achievement gap.

In an article published in MinnPost, Educator reporter Beth Hawkins wrote, “By age 3, children from low-income families are typically one standard deviation behind their wealthier peers on IQ tests. The 1,000 children in the study who got the very early intervention had the same cognitive abilities as middle- and upper-income kids at age 3.”

In his interview with Hawkins, Sojourner said, “Status at 18 can be well predicted by status at age 5, so we keep going back earlier,” said Sojourner. “And there is compelling experimental and quasi-experimental evidence that early life conditions have large, lasting impacts on life course.

Hawkins also referenced a study by economist (and Way to Grow board member) Art Rolnick that proposed early ed funding for all low-income 3 and 4 year olds based on the incredible return on investment such funding has shown to have on the economy.

Click here to read: New study: High-quality preschool for poor kids under 3 would eliminate achievement gap

    Your Name (required)

    Address

    City

    Zip

    Your Email (required)

    Phone

    Preferred contact method:
    EmailPhoneEither

    Available days:
    SunMonTuesWedsThursFriSat

    Time of day available:
    MorningAfternoonEvenings

    Services interested in:
    preschoolspecial projectsteen parentsadministrativeeventsother

    Opportunity interested in:

    Language(s) Spoken besides English:
    AmharicArabicHmongOromoSomaliSpanish

    Other languages spoken:

    Emergency contact (name, phone, relationship):

    Volunteer agreement (required):

    I understand that during the course of my volunteering at Way to Grow, I may come in contact with information that is deemed confidential. This includes, but is not limited to, personal information about Way to Grow participants. I understand that Way to Grow is required by law to keep this information confidential, and I will treat all information I come across as such unless I am told otherwise.

    I understand and agree that I am volunteering for Way to Grow at my own risk and request. I also give permission for the free use of my name, picture and voice in any broadcast, telecast, print account or any other account in any medium of the event being recorded.


    I Accept

    Additional Message: