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Updated: May 6

A newly launched grant program and related community-wide convenings of St. Croix Valley Foundation (SCVF) will all directly benefit children and their families during the first thousand days of life.

The inaugural round of First Thousand Days grantees received a total $149,000 to support children’s physical, mental, emotional, and social development. Projects are wide-ranging in scope and serve children and families throughout SCVF’s service area, which includes Washington and Chisago Counties in Minnesota, and Polk, Burnett, St. Croix, and Pierce Counties in Wisconsin.

Grantee Little Moments Count (see below for the full list of grant recipients) will partner with SCVF on Conversations of the Valley: First Thousand Days – a unique, community-wide convening featuring expert panelists, facilitated table conversations, and regional resources available to children and families. The hybrid convening will be held May 23 at Camp St. Croix RCU Discovery Center in Hudson, WI and via Zoom. The convening, Empowering Every Neighbor to Shape Children’s Futures, is open to all and will encourage all community members to play a role in supporting children and families. A second session will be offered via Zoom in June.

SCVF Director of Community Impact Angie Pilgrim led the First Thousand Days Grant and community convening efforts. The draw, she says, is in the significant return on investment for dollars invested in early childhood.

“We know that early investments in children affect everything that comes later,” said Pilgrim, “from behavior and socialization, to literacy, job performance, and even economic outcomes. We also know that everyone can help support families. This convening is for parents, but it’s also for employers, educators, health care providers, and anyone who wants to make a difference in their community in a way that will have long-term benefits.”

Panelists include Rob Grunewald, Thia Bryan, Katy Smith, and Dr. Brian Cress. Grunewald, an Economic and public policy consultant, has researched the benefits of early childhood investments extensively. His research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has helped shape regional and national policy on early childhood investment. Bryan, a Health and Wellbeing Partnership Manager with HealthPartners, will bring expertise on perinatal and early childhood disparities to the panel, along with trauma-informed practice and structural and historical racism expertise. Smith, a former Minnesota Teacher of the Year, will share her experience as a parent educator, trainer, and early childhood advocate. Pediatrician Brian Cress, who practices at HealthPartners Clinics in Stillwater, Somerset, and New Richmond, will round out the esteemed panel.

“These experts bring an absolute wealth of knowledge and experience,” said Pilgrim. “We are thrilled to have such a well-rounded group of professionals that can not only share what they know, but also connect it to each of our lives. We expect this to be a truly enlightening convening that really is meant for everyone.”

What: Conversations of the Valley: The First Thousand Days, Empowering Every Neighbor to Shape Children’s FuturesWhen: Thursday, May 23, 2024 | 7:30-10:00 AMWhere: Hybrid via Zoom and at Camp St. Croix RCU Discovery Center | 345 Riverview Dr. | Hudson, WIRegistration: Additional Info: This event is free and open to the public. For those attending in person, childcare and a light breakfast will be provided.

SCVF will offer First Thousand Days Grants annually, with the next round of applications opening in October of 2024. Full list of 2024 First Thousand Days grantees:


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