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Initiative foundation receives $260K grant to continue AmeriCorps program

Financial uncertainty is not an unfamiliar topic these days. But the local Early Childhood Family Education program in Austin received some good news Monday, in the form of funding for the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation to continue with the AmeriCorps program.

SMIF will receive a $260,000 grant to continue the AmeriCorps Learning Early Achieves Potential program in southern Minnesota. Robert Velasco, the acting CEO of the Corp. for National and Community Service, made the announcement Monday.

The grant will support 20 full-time members to serve as positive role models in preschool environments through LEAP.


"It's very important because their focus is one-on-one and small groups of activities with early childhood and focusing on families," said Amy Baskin, community education director. "They're able to provide us with an additional staff person.


"We would survive without them, but they are such a great enhancement to our program."

Baskin said officials applied in April for funding in the competitive process but were alerted in June that the SMIF AmeriCorps program would not be federally funded.

She found out in a meeting Monday that the funding would be available again, which was "very exciting."

Now, Austin's ECFE program's application is back in the running, so it just depends on if it's awarded one of the 20 positions by SMIF.

"I'm hopeful that Austin will get one of them," Baskin said.

Three AmeriCorps members were in Austin last year, at Head Start, the Parenting Resource Center and ECFE.

With the funding announcement coming now, the timeline is a bit crunched before the school year starts. Baskin just wants to let people know "there's an opportunity to serve in southern Minnesota through AmeriCorps."

Those interested should contact SMIF at (507) 455-3215.



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