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Early childhood initiative celebrates 10 years

Ten years ago, West Central Initiative (WCI), along with its five sister Minnesota Initiative Foundations (MIF), formed the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative (ECI).

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Thanks to a grant from The McKnight Foundation, the MIFs helped establish 90 community and county coalitions throughout Greater Minnesota, including 10 in west central Minnesota.

Together, the MIFs and the coalitions are working to ensure that every young child has the best possible start toward a healthy life of learning, achieving and succeeding.

The ECI is based on studies that show how strengthening early care and education for young children and their families is the most important investment communities can make for the future.

“Think about it: our young children are our future employers, workers, government officials, medical staff, engineers, parents, taxpayers, homeowners...the list goes on,” said Nancy Jost, WCI’s early childhood coordinator. “If we start now to make sure they grow into strong, healthy, community-minded adults, we build the foundation for a strong, healthy society and workforce.”

The ECI works by bringing together people and organizations to form community teams that support the well-being of young children. WCI assists with coalition building in 10 countywide sites throughout west central Minnesota, including Douglas County.

These coalitions seek the involvement of parents, senior citizens, educators, business and community leaders, the faith community, policy makers and all citizens interested in making their community a nurturing environment for young children and their families.

Each ECI team is led by a coordinator who facilitates the process of identifying, planning and implementing strategies specific to helping their communities become more nurturing places for young children and their families. Douglas County’s ECI coordinator is Tabitha Kremmin.

In the past 10 years, the west central Minnesota ECI coalitions have taken on several regional projects, including developing an Early Childhood Dental Network, holding school readiness forums and working with school districts to coordinate learning for children from preschool to 3rd grade and more.

For more information about the west central Minnesota ECI, visit