Our Program on Tuesday, November 15th was Kim Bowman from Way to Grow.  The greeter and Opening Marshal was Darel Leipold who sang a brief introduction to the meeting and then read a poem he wrote saluting veterans and then reviewed all the Presidents that had served in the military.  Don Draayer then introduced our speaker by telling of his acquaintance with Kim as a President Elect of Minneapolis #9 and the origins of Way to Grow. 
Ms. Bowman started right out with the Mission of Way to Grow as being a premier Early Childhood Education program started in 1989 with the help of then Mayor Don Fraser.  Its goal is simple says Kim, “Babies born healthy, stay healthy and read by 3rd grade.”  She then relayed a message from Carolyn Smallwood, CEO of W2G, thanking our club for the books, donation and the donations of individual club members.  Also that Carolyn has been the CEO for the past 17 years and her passion that no child left behind!  Kim continued by relaying that W2G helps parents to get kids ready for school with their staff of 13 Educators that work with parents to achieve the mantra of “Great by 8”.  They start with parents prior to birth to educate health of the mother W2G’s success rate of healthy births is 90% where the normal population is on 70%.  Then the Early Child Education program with training parents and also helping to meet basic family needs.  From the age of 3 to pre-Kindergarten the W2G Educators meet with children and parents in letter identification, numbers and basic socialization concepts.  Way to Grow has a nationally accredited curriculum for each phase of a child’s development.  The Educators are multi-racial and cultural speaking in 10 different languages.  This exposure during the pre-K years gives these children a huge benefit of readiness for Kindergarten.  Then from k-3rd grade parents are coached in helping their children with reading and home studies and the staff works with parents to know what questions to ask at Parent-Teacher Conferences.  This has resulted in 93% of W2G parents attend P-T Conferences!
Way to Grow serves a needy population and have enlarged their area of service well beyond the Minneapolis boarders into other cities and suburbs.  Some of the demographics include: 62% are H.S. grads, 55% are employed, 43% are single parent families, and 55% speak a different language.  It is really helpful that the Educators speak the native language of the parents they are serving.  As a result there is a very high level of recognition of the importance of education and results in a high level of school attendance.
Kim spoke of the difficulties caused by the Covid pandemic which necessitated the staff to do virtual home visits.  Since many families did not have computers they supplied parent with 120 laptops and also headphones for the family members to do their virtual education classes.  During the pandemic the staff made some 11,000 visits with families.  Also during the community turmoil for the George Floyd killing they provided those impacted families with food and basic needs.  Both events also necessitated individual tutoring of the children for 30 minute sessions.  Kim mentions the Consolation Fund started by Andrew Dayton that projects the benefits to society of various charities return per dollar donated.  W2G has a phenomenal $11.64/$1 donation benefit!  Also their revised curriculum is now shown to be 98% in W2G reaching their educational goals with children.  She ended her presentation by letter us know that gifting through one’s IRA is a great way to give and use the benefit of pre-tax dollars.  It was an amazing presentation!