United Way of Southwest Minnesota (UWSWMN) manages several internal programs aimed at ensuring children enter school developmentally on track in literacy, social, emotional and cognitive skills and that K - 12 students have the tools needed to succeed and thrive. Each program is available free of charge because the cost of each of these programs is covered by donations to UWSWMN, through partnerships with other organizations and/or grant funding. We serve 23 public, private and charter schools across southwest Minnesota.​​​​​​

Every several years we survey families that benefit from our early childhood education initiatives.  CLICK HERE to see the results from this year's survey.

Following is an overview of several of our programs.  Click on the logo within each description to be linked to more information about that specific program (if available).

Our internal programs are available to all people living in the following school districts in southwest Minnesota:

  • Canby

  • Dawson/Boyd

  • Echo

  • Fulda

  • Hendricks

  • Ivanhoe

  • Lake Benton

  • Lakeview

  • Lynd

  • Marshall

  • Milroy

  • Minneota

  • Murray County Central

  • Russell-Tyler-Ruthton

  • Tracy Area

  • Westbrook-Walnut Grove

  • Yellow Medicine East

Imagination Library logo

Imagination Library book program is for children (ages birth – 5 years of age) who live in our service area. Every child who is enrolled receives an age and developmentally appropriate book in the mail each month. Children gain valuable school readiness skills each time an adult in their life takes time to read books to them. Since we began sponsoring the program in 2005, 7,975 local children have graduated from the program, and 480,950 books have been delivered to homes throughout our service area. At this time, over 2,250 local children receive a book delivered to their home on a monthly basis (stats as of August 2022).

Student Emergency Funds Logo

Student Emergency Fund Grants totaling over $11,250 were distributed in July, 2022 to 21 local schools that applied for funds. Funds are to be used at the discretion of each school to support their neediest students. Participating schools reported that during the 2021-22 school year funds were used for items such as: activity/band/field trip fees, clothing, socks and shoes, lunch assistance, hygiene items, emergency food support, eyeglasses and vision exams, winter apparel, specialized school supplies, etc. 

Internal Initiatives

Wild About Kindergarten School Readiness Kits are distributed to encourage children and their parents/guardians to work on school readiness skills over the spring and summer in preparation for kindergarten in the fall.  Bags are provided to every child who attends Kindergarten Round-Up in all participating schools in our service area.  Each kit includes a book, coloring & activity book, whiteboard and marker, crayons, scissors, glue stick, modeling clay, toothbrush, parent/guardian resources and more.  

Stuff the Bus Logo

Stuff the Bus engages dozens of volunteers to collect, sort, pack and distribute supplies and backpacks to elementary, middle and high school students. Stuff the Bus means that students can create and learn to their full potential without the worry of not having the basic tools needed to reach their academic goals. In August 2022, we distributed over 56,000 school supplies to 22 local schools for them to distribute to nearly 3,000 students. This is only possible because of the tremendous local support we receive for this program.  THANK YOU!

Born Learning logo

Born Learning Trails are designed to help parents, caregivers and communities support early learning by helping boost children’s language and literacy skills and encourage families to get active. Trails include 10 fun, activity-based learning stations and are a great way to elevate awareness of early childhood education, encourage outdoor play and promote active learning in nature. We have installed permanent trails in Balaton, Cottonwood, Currie, Dawson, Fulda, Granite Falls, Hendricks, Lake Wilson and Walnut Grove. Additionally, we have a bilingual Trail installed at the SW Amateur Sports Center in Marshall. We also have a portable version of the Trail which can be used at both indoor and outdoor events throughout the year. 

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten logo

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten encourages parents/guardians to read aloud at least 1,000 books with their child(ren) before they enter kindergarten in order to help build early literacy/vocabulary skills. We work in partnership with most of the libraries in our service area to offer this program to local families. Each library offers incentives along the way and a graduation celebration upon completion.

Beyond the Book logo

Beyond the Book is an online resource that provides extension activities for many popular  Imagination Library and other children's books.  Extension activities allow children to work on their comprehension and literacy skills.  Learning activities can be accessed by visiting the designated page on our website.