Northland Foundation celebrated for support of childcare industry

Northland Foundation president Tony Sertich accepts a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Trailblazer award at a luncheon at the Inn on Lake Superior on Tuesday.

The Northland Foundation has received a Trailblazer award for its work combatting the childcare crisis in greater Minnesota. The award was presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota at an event at The Inn on Lake Superior.

Blue Cross Blue Shield vice president of public affairs Scott Keefer noted communities in greater Minnesota are experiencing an unprecedented childcare crisis having lost more than 15,000 spaces at childcare providers between 2006 and 2016. 

The Northland Foundation has supported the region’s childcare industry with training, grants and early learning scholarships.  

“Knowing what happens in the first five years of life is closely correlated with lifelong health outcomes, Blue Cross and Blue Shield is recognizing the Northland Foundation as a Trailblazer for its efforts to enhance the quality of childcare and early childhood education in northern Minnesota,” Keefer said.

Since the Northland Foundation launched its programs, more than 36 percent of child-care providers in northern Minnesota have become Parent Aware rated, ahead of other regions across the state. The Northland Foundation also administers Minnesota Early Learning scholarships in the seven counties of northeastern Minnesota. With nearly $2 million from the state, Northland awards scholarships of up to $7,500 per child, per year, to help families pay for high-quality, Parent Aware-rated childcare or preschool programs. Through this funding the foundation has been able to support 250 children.