Grant supports school readiness program

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Jun. 13—OWATONNA — Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation has received continued funding of $421,852 from AmeriCorps for support of an early childhood program.

The grant will continue SMIF's AmeriCorps LEAP (Learning Early Achieves Potential) Initiative program that focuses on school readiness for young children in its 20-county region.

AmeriCorps LEAP members are part of a team of advocates and coaches for preschool children identified as falling behind in social and emotion regulation skills critical to kindergarten success.

Members receive training in social emotional learning and tools to implement strategies through one-on-one and small-group opportunities with children throughout the preschool classroom schedule.

SMIF is actively recruiting AmeriCorps members for the 2022 — 2023 school year. Individuals interested in the federal volunteerism program may apply online at by Aug. 15. Members begin the LEAP service term in August and serve through the following July. Full-time and part-time positions are available.

AmeriCorps LEAP members receive a monthly living allowance and a Segal Education Award to attend college, graduate school or pay qualified student loans. Members older than 55 years of age can transfer their education award to a child or grandchild's college cost.

For questions, contact Barbara Gunderson, AmeriCorps director, at 507-456-0353 or