Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently awarded 525 emergency grants totaling $254,950 to child care providers in SMIF’s 20-county region.
At the urging of Governor Tim Walz, the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations, including SMIF, created the Emergency Child Care Grant Program to provide immediate relief to child care providers caring for the young children of emergency and essential workers in Greater Minnesota. Providers in SMIF’s region who received grants are caring for more than 1,800 children of emergency and essential workers. Statewide, the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations supported more than 1,500 providers with nearly $1.4 million dollars.
The program was launched March 26 with dollars going out the door over the two weeks that followed. The intent was to get immediate support to child care providers experiencing financial strain until a larger source of public funding allocated by the Minnesota Legislature and administered by Child Care Aware could be made available.
A total of 491 family-based providers and 34 centers received grants. Providers in all 20 counties in SMIF’s region received funding:
  • Blue Earth: $23,000 to 45 providers
  • Brown: $13,150 to 28 providers
  • Dodge: $11,250 to 25 providers
  • Faribault: $2,250 to 5 providers
  • Fillmore: $8,050 to 13 providers
  • Freeborn: $6,850 to 14 providers
  • Goodhue: $14,700 to 29 providers
  • Houston: $5,600 to 10 providers
  • Le Sueur: $10,800 to 24 providers
  • Martin: $12,700 to 27 providers
  • Mower: $11,900 to 24 providers
  • Nicollet: $9,650 to 19 providers
  • Olmsted: $53,900 to 110 providers
  • Rice: $11,450 to 23 providers
  • Sibley: $8,100 to 18 providers
  • Steele: $20,450 to 43 providers
  • Wabasha: $8,100 to 18 providers
  • Waseca: $6,300 to 14 providers
  • Watonwan: $3,150 to 7 providers
  • Winona: $13,600 to 29 providers
“For years we have worked to provide trainings for child care providers in quality care, and we have worked with communities to address the child care shortage by helping to create new slots,” said Rae Jean Hansen, Vice President of Early Childhood at SMIF. “Now our region and state is facing a new challenge, but our commitment to child care providers remains the same. We are deeply appreciative to the donors who built this fund quickly so that we could help providers during this difficult time.”
Due to overwhelming response, this grant program is currently closed. Should sufficient funding become available, the application will reopen. SMIF is also working to support strategy and business planning for child care providers during this difficult time.
The fund for SMIF’s Emergency Child Care Grant program was launched with $100,000 from the Minnesota Council on Foundations and Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation through their Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund for Coronavirus and $50,000 from SMIF. Additional support came through from Blandin Foundation, Compeer Financial, Goodhue County, Granite Equity Partners, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and individual donors.