By: Nicholas Banovetz, Deputy Director, MinnCAN
In just shy of two years, more than 80 organizations across Minnesota have convened and formed the MinneMinds campaign to increase access to high-quality early education for Minnesota kids. Following is a brief recap of the campaign’s work and how you can get involved!
The building blocks
In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature passed–and Gov. Dayton signed into law–historic funding of $40 million to provide low-income children pre-K scholarships so they can attend high-quality early learning programs. Way to Grow is a recipient of such scholarships, helping the top-rated Parent-Aware program reach more kids. But unfortunately this funding reaches approximately 9 percent of the need, which is why the MinneMinds campaign is back at the Capitol this session asking for two things:
- Additional funding to increase the number of children served; and
- Adjustments to the current scholarship cap of $5,o00 so these scholarships are more flexible and work better for families.
The evidence is clear
Every year approximately 15,400 low-income children arrive at kindergarten not fully prepared to succeed–about half of all kindergartners, costing Minnesota $56,000 over the lifetime of each unprepared child and approximately $860 million for every year this trend continues, according to Wilder Research. And according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, well-focused investments in early childhood development yield high public returns, as much as $16 to $1.
In short, an abundance of local research tells us that when we connect children to high-quality pre-K programs, these students are far more likely to succeed across the K-12 continuum. They’re more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to enroll in post-secondary opportunities and more likely to avoid arrest for a violent crime.
MinneMinds investments are much needed for underserved Minnesota kids. They also hold promise for us all–helping sustain Minnesota as a thriving place to live and work.
And now that scholarships are rolling out…
MinneMinds scholarships are flowing out the door, from the Twin Cities metro to outstate Minnesota. And families and providers are responding. Here’s one story from a provider in Greater Minnesota, who’s witnessed firsthand a mother and father who have been hit hard by the economy:
With the father out of work, the mother became the sole income provider for their family. By the time the parents had paid for their three children to attend an early learning program at a local family childcare provider, they had absolutely nothing left of their monthly income. With no other choice, the family was forced to consider pulling all three children out of the early learning program.
Their family childcare provider was going through the Parent Aware program and was able to provide the mother and father with information about the early learning scholarships program. She even helped the mother and father apply.
News came later that their application had been accepted and all three children are currently receiving an early learning scholarship. The children were able to remain in the licensed family childcare provider’s early learning program, eliminating the possibility of a gap in their education. Both the mother and father are so grateful for the early learning scholarships their children are receiving.
Lastly, take action!
The legislative session ends on May 19–please take two minutes before then and contact your legislators. Urge them to support MinneMinds and continue the momentum.
Learn more about MinneMinds at www.MinneMinds.com.