Consumers Energy Foundation Bolsters 5toONE Support
An early childhood development network that continues to expand across the 5-county region is receiving another major boost from the Consumers Energy Foundation.
Doug DeYoung, Community Affairs Manager for Consumers Energy, represented the Consumers Energy Foundation at the 5toONE network’s Neighborhood Center at the new Interlochen Public Library on Thursday, January 24, where he presented a $50,000 check to the Great Start Collaborative of Traverse Bay to support continued implementation of its 5toONE early childhood development project in Northwest Michigan. This is the fifth grant in a multi-year commitment and supports expansion of the local 5toONE initiative to serve more families in the five-county region. DeYoung and representatives of the Collaborative and Interlochen Public Library joined families attending a 5toONE playgroup held in the newly opened library.
“We are proud to help create opportunities for the Northern Michigan communities we serve, and 5toONE does just that — starting for children at a young age,” said Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “We have seen 5toONE deliver results and are confident our $50,000 grant can help build the foundation for more children to thrive in the region.”
“The ongoing support from the Consumers Energy Foundation is helping us expand to new communities in the 5-county region and serve more of our region’s children and families,” said Mary Manner, coordinator of the Great Start Collaborative of Traverse Bay.
5toONE was created to increase family participation in programs and services that improve early childhood outcomes in our 5-county region of rural northwest lower Michigan. The Great Start Collaborative Traverse Bay initiated the project in response to data that showed nearly half our 5-year-olds were not ready for kindergarten, that families were unaware of support services and confused about where to find help, and that our service provider network was poorly connected.
Consumers Energy Foundation has been the major supporting business partner of the 5toONE project, contributing over $280,000 since 2013 that supported the final design of the 5toONE model and a 3-year implementation period. Funding for 2019 will support a major new outreach project, called 5toONE@Work, that will engage parents in the workplace and build partnerships with area businesses to improve access to child care and early childhood programs and services for working parents. Other programming that will be expanded include the Parent Leadership Cohort, a program similar to Leadership Grand Traverse, and coordination for early literacy projects, in addition to continued support for the 5toONE Neighborhood Centers.
Bloodworth said it’s gratifying to see the support from the Consumers Energy Foundation being used to significantly expand the 5toONE initiative. Since early 2014, when a $40,000 Consumers Energy Foundation grant launched the implementation phase of 5toONE, thirteen Neighborhood Centers have opened through partnerships with local organizations in Lake Ann, Thompsonville, Kalkaska, Interlochen, Grawn, Greilickville, Benzonia, Old Mission Peninsula, Buckley, Omena, Rapid City and Mancelona.
The 5toONE model has gained the attention of the international business community, as it received the 2015 Regional Innovation Award from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE).
“The Consumers Energy Foundation has been a major supporting partner in the development and implementation of 5toONE and we are grateful for its continued support and generous funding,” Manner said.