Way to Grow

Way to Grow Turns 30!

For three decades, Way to Grow has brought the community together to address the serious and prevalent gap in early education in Minneapolis.  We began our work in 1989, when former Mayor Don Fraser, Honeywell CEO Jim Reiner, and the Greater Twin Cities United Way formed the organization, as community leaders around the country were beginning to recognize the ever-growing opportunity gap.
Originally a program of the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, Way to Grow began as a collaborative effort working with parents of young children, birth to age 5, to nurture and encourage a child’s first teachers – their parents. Our founders had a vision to create communities in which improved literacy, effective parenting, and healthy children and families are the norm, not the exception. Since our founding, we have sought to reverse negative educational trends in Minneapolis by building trusted, community-based supports for parents and their children.
In 2004, Way to Grow became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit and began to develop and implement research-based holistic best practices.  Since our founding, we have worked with nearly 70,000 children and parents to ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed in school and life.
Take a look back at some of our key milestones, and join us in celebrating. Do you have any favorite memories? Let us know by signing our digital card and sharing your memories below!

We will be adding more to this page throughout the year, celebrating memories, milestones, and the people who have made Way to Grow who we are today, so stay tuned for more!

As always, we thank you for your support as we continue to move forward together!

30 Years, 30 Moments

We’re taking a look back at some of our favorite moments of the past three decades of service!

1989Former Mayor Don Fraser, Honeywell CEO Jim Reiner, and the Greater Twin Cities United Way form Way to Grow.
1992We celebrate our first Early Learner Graduation.
2004• Way to Grow becomes an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
• Carolyn Smallwood joins Way to Grow as Executive Director.
2006• Way to Grow formalizes our Dream Tracks teen parent program for parents (ages 15-21) and their children.
• Our nationally accredited, 4-star Parent Aware rated preschool, Preschool Pals opens in North Minneapolis.
2008Way to Grow moves to our present location on West Broadway.
2010We launch our Great by 8, program, expanding our successful and statistically proven home visiting model to include children from kindergarten through 3rd grade.
2014We open our parent-child program for preschool-age children and their families, called P.A.L.S. (Parent Child Activities Lead to School Readiness), operated in partnership with and on the campus of Urban Ventures in South Minneapolis.
2017• P.A.L.S. receives 4-Star Parent Aware accreditation.
• Way to Grow programming expands to Lucy C. Laney Community School in North Minneapolis, which serves as a hub for our early childhood and parent engagement programming.
2018• We expand programming deeper into Minneapolis and out into Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center.
• Way to Grow becomes an affiliate of Parents as Teachers and implements its evidence-based home visiting curriculum.