By Carolyn Link - Blue Cross MN Foundation Executive Director

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Blue Cross Foundation invests in early education for lifelong health

February 16, 2018

Making sure that all children have access to high quality early childhood care and education is one of the best investments we can make.  Studies show that young children with  access to quality early childhood care and education are more likely to enter kindergarten ready to learn.  Kids who start kindergarten prepared to learn have a much stronger chance of  becoming proficient readers by the end of third grade –  a strikingly accurate  predictor of high school graduation and  long-term health.

The reality, however, is that not all Minnesota children have equitable access to the early childhood care and education that puts them on a path for success. Race, ethnicity, income and geography all play a role in the determining whether a child is likely to receive quality early childhood care and education.

At the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, we focus on early education, one of the many ways we work to make a healthy difference in Minnesota communities.

A commitment to continue this work for the health of all of Minnesota's children

Through our focus on the social determinants of health, the Blue Cross Foundation is excited to launch a new grant opportunity, the 2018 Early Childhood Care and Education Health Equity in Action Funding.

With these grants, the Foundation will support organizations making changes to help more children have access to quality early childhood care and education. A total of up to $1 million will be awarded to nonprofit organizations. Grants will be announced in July. Those interested in applying for funding can get more information from the Blue Cross Foundation’s website.

Grantmaking for early education

Work to reduce inequities in early childhood care and education is not new for the Blue Cross Foundation. Early learning has long been a priority, in alignment with our focus on the five key social determinants of health— income, employment, education, family and social support and community safety.

Previous grants for early childhood care and education have included:

  1. The Northland Foundation has received funding to expand Parent Aware participation in the northeastern region of the state. Northland Foundation provides free or low-cost training and hands-on support for child care providers, increasing public awareness of the importance of quality early care and education and building partnerships between schools and quality early childhood programs.
  2. The West Central Initiative Foundation, in partnership with Lakes and Prairies Child Care Aware and the Afro American Development Association have received funding to create and implement a pilot project to address the need for culturally-relevant child care for Somali-American children in Moorhead.
  3. Churches United in Ministry (CHUM) received support to engage with families with young children in Duluth in three supportive-housing communities to build strong socially connected communities that put children front and center
Supporting organizations across Minnesota

The Blue Cross Foundation currently provides funding to 46 organizations s across Minnesota that are making great strides in helping create healthy communities. You can read project descriptions and learn more information on our Grantee Map. We are proud to do our part to make a healthy difference in the lives of Minnesotans across the state by supporting organizations striving towards health equity.

About Carolyn Link

Carolyn Link is the executive director of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. Carolyn joined the organization in 2011 and became executive director in 2012. Previously, Carolyn was director at the Blue Cross Center for Prevention. Carolyn’s commitment to all aspects of health can be traced back to her early career as a nurse, working with children with complex health needs. 

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