2011 Promising Projects — Enhancing the Lives of Children and Their Families
The projects listed below, from grants awarded last year, provide examples of "on-target" proposals in each of the Foundation's grantmaking program areas that seem to hold promise of high impact if implemented as planned.
Ready for School - $120,000www.readyforschool.org
Ready for School (R4S), a private-sector led community collaborative, seeking to narrow the burgeoning regional talent gap by advancing a dramatically improved community system of early care and education initiatives that strongly influence school readiness. During just three years of operation, the R4S effort has led to promising improvements in the health and literacy of the young children. Going forward, R4S plans to expand resources and services targeted to successful parenting, improve existing child and parent-centered programming, and scale outreach efforts that mitigate risk factors related to early care and education affordability and accessibility.
Near term, the R4S initiative is expected to lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness in the use of public and private sector resources. Long term, R4S intends to refine the region’s workforce pipeline, such that the region’s companies that rely on skilled employees can anticipate a future applicant pool that is better prepared for the rigors of the workplace. Readiness for success in school through coordinated early care and education systems is a core element of the Frey Foundation investments on behalf of young children.
The Manna Project, Inc. - $21,000www.mannafoodproject.org
An alarming number of Emmet, Charlevoix, and Antrim county children arrive at school each Monday having eaten little or nothing over the weekend, compromising their ability to learn and mange their behavior. The Manna Food Project (Manna) received grant support to expand the Food 4 Kids Backpack program that distributes discreet backpacks containing shelf-stable, nutritious food that can help sustain low-income children over the weekend, when they don’t have access to free and reduced meal programs.
Manna serves as the food bank warehouse for 35 northern Michigan pantries and agencies to help distribute more than 2 million pounds of food annually. During the school year, Manna works in partnership with educators to identify eligible children to distribute the backpacks on Friday afternoons as the children go home for the weekend. During the periods when schools are closed, Manna collaborates with several area food pantries as distribution sites to continue feeding chronically hungry children during extended breaks and summer recess. Food security plays an important role in school readiness and academic performance for young children and therefore integral to Frey Foundation grantmaking.