County/School District Funding & Private Philanthropy
The Caring for Kids Initiative (CFKI) is a public/private collaborative scholarship program for families with limited income that ensures access to quality early education opportunities for children prior to kindergarten. The Initiative partners with 12 quality early learning centers to provide scholarships to 180 under resourced children. It also serves 219 parents with parent education and family supports focused on family stability.
Number of Under Resourced Children From Birth Through Age Five
School Districts Enrollment
School Districts Free and Reduced Lunch Rate
Suburb Need Overlooked, Funding is Lacking
Most state and federal funding streams such as Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge are distributed to inner-city communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul. However, 51% of people living in poverty in Minnesota now live in suburban feeder communities such as Wayzata.
Getting to Action
Wayzata and the eight suburban communities of Minneapolis are served by the Caring for Kids Initiative. These are affluent communities that have experienced a significant demographic influx over the past decade of families with limited income. Changes in welfare in the late nineties created deeper and more severe poverty, especially for parents who had to find work instead of caring for their children from birth through age five. The Interfaith Outreach Program saw this need and took the lead in organizing the community to discuss how to build new supports for vulnerable families.
The goal was to have a coordinated response to support parents with limited income and their birth-to-five children. They connected with key business leaders who championed the effort. Through key partnerships with Hennepin County, the Wayzata School District, 12 quality early childhood care providers, and the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation, a scholarship program – Caring for Kids Initiative – was successfully created to serve over one-third of under resourced children from birth through age five in the community.
|1997||Over 100 community leaders gathered to brainstorm a collective impact strategy to address the barriers that affected kids and families with limited income.|
|1998||Key partnership with Messiah Methodist Church secured. Church agreed to build space to accommodate child care.|
|2000||First child care center, Bloom Early Learning Center, opened its doors to 40 under resourced kids through support of over 22 congregations in the community.|
|2003||Local market analysis is performed and finds that there are top quality child care centers with empty slots. Spending money to build more centers did not make sense.|
|2004||Interfaith Outreach surveyed its existing caseload of parents and identified 290 families with limited income with over 300 children in need of child care.|
|2005||Retired Federal Reserve economist Dr. Art Rolnick, the state’s primary early education champion, presented to over 100 local leaders that early childhood education is the best economic investment a community can make. Momentum was built to fundraise for a scholarship fund.|
|2006||MN Early Learning Foundation provided a $300,000 seed grant.|
|2006||Partnership with both Wayzata Public Schools and Hennepin County is created to provide over 30% of the initiatives ongoing funding. The county gave $198,000, and the school district gave $126,000.|
|2007||Program launched to offer scholarships to families with limited income for their children to attend one of 12 high quality child care centers in the community.|
|2007 - Present||Wayzata Public Schools evaluated the scholarship program to measure its ongoing effectiveness.|
|2014||A $300,000 gift was donated to the Interfaith Outreach Endowment Fund by three local business leaders.|
|Present||A partnership is being explored with the Chamber of Commerce to provide additional funding to expand the number of scholarships the Caring for Kids Initiative can offer.|
- 100% of CFKI children (ages 3-5) demonstrated readiness or had intervention strategies in place at kindergarten entry.
- 88% of CFKI children (ages 0-3) demonstrated age appropriate development. The remaining 12% were referred to the district’s Family Support Team.
- 100% of participating children were screened for social-emotional issues once during CFKI enrollment.
- 95% of CFKI families attended conferences at their child’s early learning center.
- 80% of families reported parent/child literacy activities at home.
Students served through The Caring for Kids (CFKI) scholarship program were 50% more likely to meet standards for kindergarten entry than their counterparts from families with limited income who did not receive scholarships.
Keys to Success
The Superintendent of Wayzata School championed the Caring for Kids Scholarship Initiative and provided dedicated district funding.
Retired corporate executives in the community joined the efforts to champion the initiative.
Access to professors at the University of Minnesota to serve on the advisory board and perform data collection to measure program effectiveness.