Engaging Families in Early Childhood Programs and Policies

May 8, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 3.46.24 PMThe Start Early Funders Coalition champions affordable, accessible, high quality care and education for children in Minnesota by leveraging the group’s funding interests to advance public policy and community supports for early childhood education and programs.

Last month the coalition convened community leaders and practitioners to provide information on effectively engaging families in early childhood programs and policies.

The convening focused on two questions:

  • What exactly does “family engagement” mean?
  • How can we implement effective strategies for developing family partnerships, particularly across diverse cultures and varied early childhood programs?”

Family & Community Engagement for Healthy Child Development

Betty Emerita, consultant, Development and Training Inc., and Richard Chase, senior research manager, Wilder Foundation, examined family and community knowledge systems — the informal and formal ways that children learn at home and in their community.

The Family and Community Knowledge Systems Project:

  • Underscores the importance of how programs recognize, interact with and support these important systems in which children are embedded.
  • Aims to expand how we define and support healthy whole-child development and program quality from the perspective of family and community knowledge systems.
  • Highlights and measures ways to strengthen family and community engagement with formal systems to improve early childhood programs, policies, and practices — particularly for low-income children and children of color.

For more on their research, read the resulting publication: Promoting and Measuring Family and Community Engagement for Healthy Early Childhood Development.

Barb Fabre, director of White Earth Reservation child care, and Carolyn Smallwood, executive director, Way to Grow, reflected on their experience using the family and community engagement tool and noted that it increased positive family engagement outcomes and deepened the engagement and understanding of the children and families they served.

Family Engagement Programs and Best Practices

Christine DeGroote, early childhood education specialist, Head Start, presented the organization’s engagement framework for parents, family and community and its success measures. She highlighted the importance of crossing contexts at home, in early childhood programs, school and community to ensure success for children and families.

Mi Yang, parent leadership trainer, Cross-Cultural Leadership Action Program (C-Clap) presented curriculum that her organization used to train community leaders, relatives, parents and providers to educate and empower parents. She encouraged the audience to consider the following:

  1. All parents want their children to succeed
  2. We must believe in parent’s best intentions
  3. Change begins with knowledge

Andre Dukes, family academy director, Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), presented NAZ’s ending multigenerational poverty approach, highlighting the role of the Family Academy’s parent curriculum, which builds upon a family’s existing strengthens and then adds tools to parents’ skill sets to increase positive parenting practices.

Ellen Haefner, early childhood family educator, reviewed Faribault’s Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program structure and highlighted initiatives surrounding parent education and opportunities for children and families.

Cisa Keller, director of government and community relations, New Horizons Academy, noted implications for effective family engagement with regard to public policy, including an increase of early learning scholarships and multiple federal efforts such as, Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships, proposed CCDBG changes and more.

Rae Jean Hansen, senior program officer, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, closed by encouraging attendees to use the research and best practices of the panelists to further work for effective family education and high quality early care.

- Tiffany Wilson-Worsley, MCF public policy and government relations fellow

 


What Can You Learn from PFund’s Community-led Grantmaking?

April 29, 2014

pfund1aWith a belief that community members can best determine where funding will have the greatest positive impact, PFund Foundation (an MCF member) has long been committed to community-led grantmaking. In its last round of grantmaking and guided by a strategic direction of increased regional participation, PFund involved community more than ever. A summary of changes PFund made follows.

And, for a more detailed look at how you can incorporate PFund’s learning into your next grants round, check the spring issue of Giving Forum (online and in your mailbox now).

5 Changes:

  1. Expand the table. Historically PFund has engaged community leaders based in the Twin Cities. In its last grants round, it added leaders from Greater Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, and it plans to recruit from Iowa and South Dakota.
  2. Connect community leaders. In addition to reviewing written grant proposals, during its last grant round, community leaders held 24 site visits – in person and virtual. This connected leaders in new ways.
  3. Build shared knowledge. To enrich everyone’s understanding of LGBT communities in the Upper Midwest, PFund is convening community leaders.
  4. Foster mutual commitment. PFund is moving from recruiting volunteers annually to inviting community members to serve 3-year terms on its grant committee.
  5. Create a playbook. The foundation’s guidelines, approaches, policies and more are now documented in a resource that will be used and updated by the grants committee annually.

Did PFund do something that your organization could build on to increase your level of interaction with and commitment to the communities you serve?

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


A Good Food Future: The Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network

January 8, 2014

healthyfoodToday on the blog we feature Pam Bishop, entrepreneur senior program officer, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. She presented at the 2013 MCF Philanthropy Convening about one of MCF’s member networks, the Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network. She tells us more about it here.

At the November 2013 MCF Philanthropy convening, representatives from the Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities (HFHC) Funders Network introduced the network during an interactive breakout session. Here is some of what was covered:

Who We Are
The Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network is a group of Minnesota-based funders who make informed, coordinated and strategic investments to improve key facets of our food system. Our shared commitment to the vitality and prosperity of our state’s communities and resilience of our landscapes inspire us to work together.

What We Do
This diverse group of funders:

  • Shares information about promising programs, organizations, issues and research.
  • Coordinates funding among members to ensure resources are well-distributed across organizations and initiatives focused on food systems.
  • Increases overall funding available for food systems-related work.
  • Convenes meetings for Minnesota’s funding community on relevant issues of interest around food systems and philanthropy.

Priorities
Our joint agenda for learning and investment is based on the concept of collective impact. It emphasizes three strategic priorities:

  1. Facilitate Local Entrepreneurship across the food supply chain.
  2. Improve Access to Healthy Food to enhance wellness and health equity for all Minnesotans.
  3. Strengthen and sustain Farmland Access throughout the state.

For the next three years, these priorities will inform the content of HFHC-sponsored meetings for the broader funding community. They will also influence strategies to align and increase funding.

Each priority has a working group that meets regularly to plan network-wide learning opportunities and execute a successful strategy to coordinate and increase funding.

Get Involved
If you are a funder interested in these issues, here are some ways for you to get involved with the Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network:

  • Join the HFHC listserv by contacting Tara Kumar, member services manager at MCF.
  • Attend the HFHC public meeting in early 2014. Watch for details — coming soon.
  • Join one of the HFHC working groups to collaborate with other funders on strategic alignment of funding on an issue you care about. Contact Tara if interested.

Members
HFHC Funders Network has members from agencies, organizations and institutions that fund efforts to address social, environmental, economic and human health dimensions of food and agriculture in Minnesota.

For example: family, community and corporate foundations; state agencies, such as the Minnesota Department of Health; academic institutions, such as the University of Minnesota; health organizations, such as UCare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota; and hunger relief groups such as United Way.

Photo cc NatalieMaynor

Minnesota Grantmaking Up By Nearly 15%

October 15, 2013

GiM_mediumThe Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) today released its Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition research, the most comprehensive analysis of charitable giving in the state. The research shows that foundations and corporations granted $1.7 billion in 2011*, an increase of 14.7 percent over the prior year.

Total charitable giving by individuals, foundations and corporations in Minnesota reached $5.5 billion in 2011, a 3.4-percent rise from 2010. Individuals donated $3.8 billion, 70 percent of Minnesota’s overall charitable giving.

total1

Grantmaking by Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Boosts Totals

“New giving by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation accounted for much of the increase in foundation giving,” says Trista Harris, MCF president. “But even without that, Minnesota grantmaking rose 5 percent to an all-time high.”

Margaret A. Cargill Foundation grantmaking rose from $10 million in 2010 to $142 million in 2011. The unprecedented growth was due, in part, to the foundation paying out multi-year commitments to a large number of nonprofits, according to Sallie Gaines, Margaret A. Cargill spokesperson.

“A portion of the increase was due to this one-time satisfaction of multi-year pledges to about 475 grantees,” Gaines explains. Preliminary data show that Margaret A. Cargill Foundation grantmaking settled back to about $42 million in 2012.

Education Continues to Receive Largest Share of Grant Dollars

The one-time Margaret A. Cargill grantmaking dramatically boosted giving in six of eight subject areas in 2011, but overall subject area rankings did not change from the previous year.

Education continued to receive the largest share (28 percent), followed by human services (21 percent) and public affairs/society benefit (17 percent). Notes Harris, “Minnesota grantmakers are dedicated to supporting education, which is so critical at this time when our state is grappling with one of the largest racial achievement gaps in the nation.”

areas1_large

Half of Giving Stays in State

In 2011, 47 percent of Minnesota grantmaking dollars went to organizations and programs serving the state. A similar amount was distributed to groups serving other parts of the U.S., and 4 percent was given to support international causes.

“Seventy percent of corporate grant dollars went out of state, reflecting businesses’ goals of supporting their headquarters’ communities as well as other parts of the nation and world where they have facilities and customers,” explains Harris.

Corporate grantmaking is vital in Minnesota. In 2011, company foundations and giving programs comprised just 9 percent of the state’s 1,465 grantmakers, but they gave 43 percent of all grant dollars. By contrast, private foundations made up 85 percent of Minnesota’s grantmakers and gave 42 percent of all 2011 grant dollars. Community and public foundations accounted for the remaining 15 percent of giving.

*The 2011 research year, the most recent time period for which complete data are available, includes financial information from foundations and corporate giving programs with fiscal years ending between June 1, 2011, and May 31, 2012.

Additional Data Available
MCF determines trends in giving by subject area and geographies served by analyzing grants of $2,000 or more made by a sample of 100 of Minnesota’s largest grantmakers. In 2011, MCF coded 27,575 grants totaling $1.16 billion or about two-thirds of the state’s total philanthropic giving for the year.

A PDF summary of the Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition report is here. For additional details on subject areas, geographies, beneficiaries, type of support and long-term trends in the state’s charitable giving, view a PDF of the full Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition report. You’ll find it all at www.mcf.org/research/giving.


Businesses of All Sizes Support Minnesota Communities

August 16, 2013

gf_summer_trends_fig_cMCF’s Giving in Minnesota, 2012 Edition research showed 134 corporate foundations and formal giving programs in Minnesota in 2010 (the most recent year for which complete data are available).

Some of the names of giant retail or consumer goods companies – such as Target or General Mills – may be very familiar to you. But other large corporate grantmakers – such as business-to-business leader Pentair or agricultural stand-out CHS – may not be.

These and many other businesses of all sizes support our communities through charitable donations of money, products, services and volunteerism.

Don’t miss the data-rich article, Generous Corporate Support of Nonprofits, in the  the summer issue of Giving Forum on corporate philanthropy. There you’ll learn more about how and where local corporations give, what they support, and if their giving is up or down in recent years.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,903 other followers