July 2018
Summer is here which means families are finally able to enjoy the outdoors after a long winter. As campfires burn out and kids get ready for bed, many parents will pull out a book and read a bedtime story. This is important because studies consistently show that reading at a young age drastically improves a child’s educational trajectory.

According to Minnesota Compass, the ability to read by the end of third grade often predicts future academic and life success. Fifty-seven percent of third graders in Minnesota are proficient in reading, and our 20-county region is only a fraction above the statewide average. At Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) we know it is important to invest in early literacy efforts as a long-term strategy to support our communities and future workforce.

One way we support this effort is through our Literacy Grant Program. We recently distributed more than 18,000 books - English, Spanish and bilingual - to 41 organizations in our region through this grant. These organizations – libraries, schools, public health organizations, reading centers, and more – work with children birth to age five. The beauty of this program is that these organizations will distribute the books to children who will be able to take them home, hopefully encouraging a lifelong love of reading. Minnesota-based publishing companies, ABDO Publishing and Capstone, generously donate the majority of the books for this program. Over the years of partnering with these companies, we have been able to distribute more than one hundred thousand books throughout the region.
New Prosperity Initiative Cohort
The Prosperity Initiative is a program that promotes inclusive entrepreneurship and minority-owned business growth in southern Minnesota. The program provides regular education, coaching, and business resources to minority and new immigrant business owners in SMIF’s 20-county region.

After a successful two years of working with twenty-eight business owners during our pilot program, we are excited to welcome an additional eight business owners to this program.

The entrepreneurs include: Allegra Henderson, Akin; Ahmad Kiblawi, Stadium Mart; Nhi Lam, Coconut Whisk Baking Co.; Gordon Liu, Hourglass Consulting Co.; Jeffery E. Mackie, Airbrush Madness Graphics Inc.; Pamela Riquelme Paredes, Pamela’s Spanish Immersion Daycare; Maria Vargas, Genesis Outdoor Services; Yusuf Yusuf, GOT IT!.

Additional cohorts will be formed in the Rochester and Austin areas this year, and more will be added to the program in 2019. For questions about the Prosperity Initiative contact Chad Poitra, Community and Business Diversity Specialist, at chadp@smifoundation.org or 507.214.7011.
Planning for Future Generations
Sue Kolling is giving back to the place she calls home. She has volunteered in her community and at work, raised her two entrepreneurial sons, and now enjoys time with her grandchildren who are close to her in Spring Valley. This is just the beginning of the legacy she will leave. Kolling has left a bequest to Spring Valley Area Community Foundation (SVACF) and SMIF that will impact the community and region for years to come.

After actively participating on various boards in her community for many years she was instrumental in the launch of SVACF, an affiliate fund of SMIF, to support the longevity and vibrancy of where she grew up. Now her legacy will live on through her bequest.

Kolling is an annual supporter of SVACF and SMIF. She wanted to accomplish more. “With a career in banking I work with so many clients and they would share with me their goal to leave money to their church or their community,” said Kolling. “Or they really believe in and want to support a certain cause or project. So often those words were said but they never memorialized their wishes or let their family know their intent. I believe it is the responsibility of each generation to invest in the future of the next generation and making a planned gift allows me to be part of that.”
Welcome new board members!
SMIF is happy to welcome three new members to our Board of Trustees. Duane Benson (left) is a farmer and cattle rancher from Lanesboro. Xavier Frigola is the director of the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator and director of entrepreneurship at Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc in Rochester. Erin Meier is the director of Green Lands Blue Waters with the University of Minnesota. Welcome!
Fourth Quarter Loans l  See Our Business Resources
Rochester Gymnastics Academy of MN, LLC, Rochester | Gymnastics facility
Pleasant Grove Pizza Farm, Waseca | Restaurant and event service
Brand Yourself, Northfield | Marketing and branding company
Daisy Blue Naturals, LLC, Albert Lea | Natural cosmetic and personal care products
Sollid Yoga, LLC, Owatonna | Yoga studio
Geneticure Inc,* Rochester | Medical technology and testing
Evan's Eatery, LLC, Albert Lea | Mobile food trailer
J.A. Expressions, LLC, Albert Lea | Full service salon

*Equity Fund Investment
Third Quarter Grants
Early Childhood Literacy Grants: 18,275 books to 41 organizations
Paint the Town Grants: 278 gallons of paint to nine organizations
Economic Development Grants: $45,000 to three organizations
FEAST! Smart Start Grants: $20,000 to two organizations
Upcoming Grant Deadlines
Small Town Grants: due August 31
Upcoming Events
Community Driven Solutions to Addressing the Child Care Crisis
In partnership with  First Children's Finance  and  Families First of Minnesota, Child Care Aware , SMIF invites you to bring a team from your community to one of these events to learn more about addressing the child care crisis.

July 31, Mankato

August 7, Rochester
SMIF's 2018 Annual Luncheon
Thursday, October 11
11:30 am - 1:30 pm
Owatonna Country Club

At this year’s Annual Luncheon we will highlight our partners that are  moving the needle  on issues in our region through innovation and collaboration.

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation | 507-455-3215 | www.smifoundation.org