Success Stories

 Profile Way to Grow families/children and their accomplishments

Preschool Pals Update: Summer is here!

Preschool Pals Update: Summer is here! 594 594 Way to Grow

An Update from Ms. Gwen

At the beginning of April our classes started a unit on color theory. The students mixed lots of colors, made sidewalk chalk, created rainbow crayons and worked together to make a classroom mural! Our class read the book “White Rabbit’s Color Book” by Alan Baker to learn more about mixing primary colors. Through hands-on activities like mixing colored water and making side walk chalk, the kids learned what colors make purple, green, orange and brown. The kids favorite activity was making crayons and having a glow in the dark dance party!

This spring we introduced two new music teachers from MacPhail Center for Music to come once a week to sing with our kids, teach them new instruments and engage in fun musical activities. 

Our class took time at the beginning of May to celebrate May Day. We had a picnic in the park, played games, made flower bracelets and decorated vases for our flower bouquets.

Our preschool held a parentchild class on gardening. Families worked together to plant their own seeds and the kids helped plant in the outdoor garden. 

Our unit for the month of May is on plants and gardening.The kids helped teachers put together the new garden bed. They worked to spread out the dirt and water our herb garden. The kids were fascinated with the different shapes, sizes and textures of each seed. They are most looking forward to the fruits and vegetables that our garden with produce this summer!

Celebrating our Third Graders!

Celebrating our Third Graders! 2560 1706 Way to Grow

Congrats, Third Graders!

Hats off to our third grade class of 2024! This May, Way to Grow honored our third grade graduates at North Mississippi Regional Park. At Way to Grow, we partner with families from before birth through third grade, so we’re wishing our students and families well as they graduate from Way to Grow. This graduation is not a farewell but a “see you soon” to our 8-year-olds.

Our celebration included a picnic lunch, an array of sweet treats, jumbo yard games, and inspiring words from our Family Educators. Gathering with our families reminds us of the hope, joy, and laughter that fill our community every day.

To Way to Grow’s Class of 2024,

Congratulations on your amazing achievement of graduating from third grade! This is a special milestone, and we are all so proud of you. Your hard work, curiosity, and determination have brought you here, and it’s wonderful to see how much you’ve grown and learned.

As you move forward, remember that every step you take is a new adventure. Keep asking questions, exploring new ideas, and always believe in yourself. Your journey is just beginning, and we can’t wait to see all the incredible things you will achieve.

Enjoy your summer, have fun, and get ready for the exciting challenges ahead. Remember, you have a bright future, and we’re here cheering you on every step of the way.

With heartfelt congratulations,

Your friends at Way to Grow

Way to Grow at the MN State Capitol #ACD2024

Way to Grow at the MN State Capitol #ACD2024 2560 1707 Way to Grow

Last Monday, Way to Grow had a busy morning at the Minnesota State Capitol! Alongside other education advocates from across the state, Way to Grow families showed up again to support early childhood care and education in the state of Minnesota at Advocacy for Children Day. With the help of Greater Twin Cities United Way, we’re asking legislators to prioritize Minnesota’s youngest children.

At Advocacy for Children Day, we heard from Northside Achievement Zone’s Andre Dukes, featured author Pamela Mercado Michelli, parent speakers, Shannon Smith Jones of Greater Twin Cities United Way, and Way to Grow’s very own Director of Programs, Patricia Wilson.

Thank you to all the Minnesota representatives who shared, listened to our stories, and supported this event, including Mayor Melvin Carter, Rep. María Isa Pérez-Vega, Rep. Nathan Coulter, Rep. Samantha Sencer-Mura, Senator John Hoffman, Rep. Matt Norris, Representative Patricia Mueller, Senator Erin Maye Quade, and Senator Zach Duckworth.

Here’s how you can help: continue spreading the word about the importance of early childhood education. Support advocacy and engagement work that leads to lasting change, through direct participation or through financial contributions. Be an active participant in your local government and consider writing to your lawmakers and policy leaders. You can find your policymakers using the “Who Represents Me?” tool on Minnesota State Legislature’s website.

Together, we’re creating a bright future for Minnesota’s youngest generation.

We are thankful to work with and alongside our community partners, as well as countless other organizations advocating for early childhood care and education in Minnesota on Advocacy for Children Day: United Way Twin Cities, The Sheltering Arms Foundation, Start Early Funders Coalition, BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota, CARE Fellowship, Child Care Aware of Minnesota, Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota, Generation Next, PICA Head Start, Free Spirit Publishing, YWCA Minneapolis, Initiative Foundation, Joyce Preschool, Kids Count On Us, Little Moments Count, Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children, MNAFEE, MCAA, Minnesota Coalition for Family Home Visiting, MN Prenatal-to-Grade 3 (P3) Initiative, NAZ, New Horizon Academy, Planting People Growing Justice, Before Racism, Rainbow Child Development Center, Take Action MN, Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, Think Small, West Central Initiative, and Women Venture Twincities.

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!

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! 

Congratulations, Class of 2023!

Congratulations, Class of 2023! 2560 1707 Kate Kinkade

This August, Way to Grow had the opportunity to celebrate our Early Learner Class of 2023. The achievements of our families shine bright: this school year, 89% of our preschoolers were evaluated as ready to enter kindergarten on track!

Beginning kindergarten is a major milestone, and each of our Early Learners have been working hard alongside their families to prepare for their next big adventure. Way to Grow’s assessments indicated that 89% of our pre-k students are beginning the school year on track to succeed, determined by the results of our Individual Growth and Development Indicator (IGDI) assessments. Developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota, these assessments are administered to our Early Learners three times annually.

Starting school—at any level—is a big step worth celebrating. Way to Grow is here to help families navigate questions, new systems, and major changes at home. Our Early Learners will continue to be enrolled in Way to Grow for the next four years, learning and growing alongside their Way to Grow Family Educator all the way until they’re ready to begin fourth grade.

Way to Grow’s Early Learner graduation was supported by many of our dedicated volunteers, funders, and partner organizations. Our friends at the Ciresi Walburn Foundation funded a book fair for the celebration, filling the Metropolitan Ballroom with tables of over 600 books for each child to hand-pick for their home libraries. Graduates were also supported by our dedicated partners at the Books to Grow project, which has been partnering with Way to Grow for over a decade. Each family received a hand-crafted gift bag, filled with art supplies and a brand new copy of “The Crayons Go Back to School.”

When it was time to receive their diplomas, our brave graduates walked across the stage with their heads held high!

Way to Grow would like to extend heartfelt thanks to all who made this celebration possible. Thank you to all the Way to Grow parents and caregivers 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. Finally, thank you to our event volunteers from PNC, the Way to Grow Board of Directors, and our network of funders for your continued support.

To all of our Way to Grow families: you are going to do amazing things this year. We’ll be there for you every step of the way!

Photos by Alden Content

Meet Ricardo!

Meet Ricardo! 1971 1971 Kate Kinkade

Since moving to Minnesota from his home country of El Salvador, Ricardo has dedicated his life to being a role model for his two sons, Ezequiel (6) and Alexis (10). “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.”

Seeking new ways to increase the family’s access to Spanish language resources, Maria introduced Ricardo, Ezequiel, and Alexis to their local public library last fall. Ricardo remembers watching Ezequiel and Alexis run through the library shelves for the first time, laughing together amidst a seemingly endless collection of books, computers, and games.

“Eso no tiene precio,” says Ricardo. “That’s priceless.”

Maria’s language-to-language connection has allowed her to build a strong foundation of trust with Ricardo and his boys. When water began creeping into the basement of their family home, Ricardo called Maria for support during a Brooklyn Center city inspection: “She advocated for us and practically demanded that the problem be resolved.”

Through resource connections and engagement with community services, Way to Grow Family Educators create a unique network of support that reflects the needs of each individual family. As Ricardo dedicates each day to building a bright future for Alexis and Ezequiel, Maria will be there to offer support, resources, and trusted advice along every step of their journey.

Congrats, Third Graders!

Congrats, Third Graders! 1366 2048 Way to Grow

Congrats, Third Graders!

This summer, we gathered together at North Mississippi Regional Park to celebrate our 3rd grade graduates!

At Way to Grow, we work with families from before birth to third grade. Graduation isn’t a goodbye, but a “see ya later!” to our fantastic 8-year-olds.  We celebrated with a picnic lunch, plenty of sweet treats, jumbo yard games, and heartwarming words from our Family Educators.  

Celebrating together with our families is always a reminder of the hope, joy, and laughter that lives in our community every single day. To our third grade graduates… we can’t wait to see all of the amazing things you achieve! 

Meet Destiny!

Meet Destiny! 1707 2560 Kate Kinkade

With a special love of painting pictures and reciting pages from her favorite book, Chrysanthemum, Destiny is bright, talented, and determined to be a leader. Her mom, Sharla, laughs: “Sometimes I call her auntie,” she says, “because she has an older soul.”

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.”

When Destiny graduated from Way to Grow’s Preschool Pals in 2022, she was ready to start her next big adventure. Adjusting to kindergarten at a brand new school was difficult at first, but Mr. Tony was there to offer support and answer questions for every step of the process. 

Sharla explains that Tony is always checking in with her family to offer resources and support: “It’s never overwhelming,” says Sharla. “He’s always warm – it’s comfortable, genuine support.”

These days, Destiny is excelling in her studies at KIPP Academy. When Destiny isn’t in school, she’s probably playing with her turtles, Bobby and Steve, having snacks at the YMCA, or leapfrogging across your local library. When she grows up, Destiny wants to be an artist—and, with determination like hers, anything is possible!

The Present and Future of Way to Grow’s Impact

The Present and Future of Way to Grow’s Impact 3415 3293 Chelsea DeLong

Fadumo and Emmanuel’s Story

For over 30 years, Way to Grow has worked with families in the Twin Cities, providing high-impact, early childhood and elementary education to help children and families succeed in school and life. Way to Grow provides parents and caregivers the tools they need to be their child’s #1 teacher, encouraging parents and children to advocate for themselves throughout their educational journey.

Way to Grow’s uniquely customized home visiting program addresses education inequity in the Twin Cities and surrounding communities by supporting early learners in the present and putting families on the path to success—from third grade graduation and beyond.

On Friday, October 14th at our Shine Celebration Gala, we heard about the longevity of Way to Grow’s impact from our two special guests, Emmanuel and Fadumo.

Emmanuel, a current Way to Grow first grader, has been working hard with his Family Educator Amina since 2020. When they first met, Emmanuel hid under the table! But with persistence and hard work, Emmanuel grew to trust Anima and learned the alphabet one letter at a time. After completing his kindergarten-readiness assessment, he tested perfectly… and skipped kindergarten, going right into the first grade!

Taking the stage in a room of a crowd of over 360 people, Emmanuel read the following poignant verses from Amanda Gorman’s children’s book, “Change Sings”:

I can hear change humming

In its loudest, proudest song

I don’t fear change coming,

And so I sing along.

Change sings where? There! Inside of me.

Because I am the change I want to see.

As I grow, it grows like seeds.

I am just what the world needs

Emmanuel’s story and progress shows what we know: Way to Grow’s program works on children and has immediate benefits to the family, child, and the community.

Next to the stage was Fadumo, Way to Grow alum and recent Hamline University graduate. Shany, her Family Educator, knew Fadumo since before she was born! Graduating from our program in 2005, Fadumo told an enraptured audience how Shany’s presence in her life at such a young age has impacted her to this very day.

Though her time with Way to Grow was nearly two decades ago, the impact on her education has remained through the present. Benefiting from one-on-one learning with Shany, Fadumo excelled all throughout her entire academic career—from elementary school all the way to Hamline University— and credits her time with Shany as a reminder of how she can succeed.

In her own words: “Today, I aspire to become a Physician Associate that specializes in pediatric care. And I’m PROUD to say that I have been accepted into the Augsburg University Physician Associate graduate program! Someday I hope to have the opportunity to work with kids and have an impact on their life like Shany did with me.”

Emmanuel and Fadumo are just two of MANY individuals that Way to Grow impacts year after year. Through hard work from our families, staff, and supporters, we have seen Way to Grow families succeed: in 2022, we’ve currently worked with over 600 families—and we’re looking forward to connecting with even more children and families before the end of the year!

Once more, another round of applause for Emmanuel, Fadumo, and their continued accomplishments!

    Your Name (required)




    Your Email (required)


    Preferred contact method:


    Available days:

    Time of day available:

    Services interested in:
    preschoolspecial projectsteen parentsadministrativeeventsother

    Opportunity interested in:

    Language(s) Spoken besides English:

    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: