Way to Grow

Great by Eight

Our core early learning program is called Great by Eight. A proven and extremely scalable model, the program is facilitated through home visits, center-based programming and connection to resources and includes early childhood and elementary education support, health and wellness education, teen parenting support and parent engagement.

Our holistic approach begins with the parents to stabilize their families and connect them to basic needs services, meeting them where they are and helping move them forward. Our goal is to ensure every child is born healthy, stays healthy and has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Studies show that a child’s early years­—from prenatal through the third grade (age 8)—are critical in developing the physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills that will make him/her more likely to succeed in school and go on to succeed in life, decreasing the likelihood that they’ll turn to crime, have need for public assistance, or remain in a cycle of poverty. Ultimately, this helps build stronger communities, a stronger economy and a stronger workforce, giving funding of early childhood education an extremely high return on investment.


Home Visits

Home visits are the hallmark initiative of our proven Great by Eight program. Understanding that parents play an important role in their children’s early education at home, our team of Way to Grow Family Educators go into the home and provide culturally-sensitive, language-to-language, evidence-based education centered around literacy, math and health curriculum, parent education, child development and school expectations.

With a holistic approach, Family Educators teach the parents how to become a child’s first and foremost teacher. At the same time, they’re assessing the individual needs of the family and providing referrals to other Way to Grow programs or the services of our partner agencies to help stabilize the home. Our goal is to empower parents and remove any barriers to the child’s development.

Family Activity Nights

Way to Grow Family Activity Nights encourage families to learn together while increasing literacy and math skills, learning about healthy habits, and exploring creativity. Activity nights are offered at libraries and other community locations and give families an opportunity to play and interact in a familiar context. Lead by Family Educators, we use games to teach critical skills identified in the Minnesota state standards. Families are then encouraged to take the game home where they can continue to foster an environment of learning.

Way to Grow Family Room at Lucy Laney

Way to Grow works on-site at Lucy C. Laney Community School in North Minneapolis to provide services to families with children ages 0–8. The Way to Grow Family Room hosts after school tutoring, New Parent Group, and a curriculum-based play time called Play to Grow.

Preschool Pals

Offered four days per week, Preschool Pals is a NAEYC accredited and MN Parent Aware 4-star rated center-based preschool program designed to complement home visits for Way to Grow families.


Parent-Child Activities Lead to School-Readiness (P.A.L.S.) Preschool is a NAEYC accredited and MN Parent Aware 4-star rated center-based preschool. P.A.L.S. holds regular preschool classes four days a week and invites parents into the classroom for parent-child learning time twice per month.

Family Support & Stability

Connection to Resources

Effective early learning must start in a stable home. When a family’s living situation is in jeopardy, it directly affects education efforts. We connect families with trusted community resources, while still teaching parents how to be self-sufficient.

On average, Way to Grow provides 25 referrals each day to families who need additional support. We collaborate with medical and dental clinics, employment agencies, housing services, food shelves, churches, schools, libraries, and many local and state government programs. Through our strong relationships with community resources, we’re able to give families the help they need quickly.

Cooking Matters

In partnership with the University of Minnesota Extension Services, Way to Grow offers Cooking Matters, a six-week cooking and nutrition course for parents and their children. Skills for healthy cooking, eating and shopping are discussed throughout the sessions. This course teaches families how to use healthy recipes and plan meals on a tight budget. A professional chef demonstrates how to prepare healthy meals and participants are given the opportunity to cook their own healthy meal after each demonstration.

Together We Grow

During our monthly Together We Grow parent groups in both North and South Minneapolis, parents and their babies up to one year old participate in activities that support the content in our Way to Grow home visits. These sessions are designed to create an intimate, open environment where parents can share their experiences and receive relevant information on topics such as breastfeeding support, sleep issues, nutrition and more while teaching their babies through play. Thanks to our South Minneapolis Sponsor, Medica for supporting this important work!

Dream Tracks

Though teen parents face many obstacles and struggles, our Dream Tracks Teen Parenting Program helps educate and prepare them for a successful life. By reducing the number of additional pregnancies, and motivating teen parents to complete their education, we’re helping increase their chances of obtaining a livable income and breaking the cycle of poverty.

Our Dream Tracks program centers around:

  • Educating young mothers on parenting, healthy child development and pre-literacy skills.
  • Motivating and empowering teens to dream about what their life—and their child’s life—can be, and providing the tools to actively plan for goal achievement.
  • Providing a range of academic assistance.
  • Introducing career planning and developing strategies for building job skills.
  • Providing opportunities to improve the community through volunteerism while gaining workforce experience.

My Voice Matters

My Voice Matters is a parent engagement and advocacy initiative with the goal of involving parents in advocacy and empowering them to make the right choices for their children. Programming includes Parent Voices listening sessions, parent trainings, and advocacy events throughout the year.

My Voice Matters is a Way to Grow program in partnership with MN Comeback, Children’s Defense Fund, Joyce Preschool, MinneMinds, Northside Achievement Zone, Think Small, Greater Twin Cities United Way, and Minneapolis YWCA.

Financial Training

The families we serve often face overwhelming socioeconomic barriers, which can adversely affect the family’s overall stability and contribute to additional stress in the home. We help families gain knowledge and confidence by teaching basic financial skills during home visits and encouraging families to attend group financial sessions.

Refer a Family

Agencies may refer a family to us by completing the following form and returning it to us via fax (612-874-4757) or email (wtg@mplswaytogrow.org). Please call us at 612-874-4740 with any questions.

Referral Form


Great by Eight is supported by subgrant from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service. The Social Innovation Fund combines public and private resources to grow the impact of innovative, community-based solutions that have compelling evidence of improving the lives of people in low-income communities throughout the United States.