Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, KIDS PLUS has evolved from a single program in 1991 into a wide array of initiatives designed to connect community members across all sectors to help meet the needs of children and young people, from birth to adulthood. KIDS PLUS would not be what it is today without the tremendous support of concerned, caring people throughout the region who are willing to pool their talents and resources to create a brighter future for the next generation.
KIDS PLUS Communities The first initiative of the KIDS PLUS Program has grown to 26 northeastern Minnesota communities that have committed to actively keep young people at the forefront of community conversation and to be intentional about valuing young people, viewing them as resources, and developing locally-driven programs for youth ages 10 to 18 years.
Twin Ports Youth Leadership Academy This unique leadership and service learning program engages ninth grade students and volunteer adult mentors from the neighboring communities of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin. A series of interactive sessions over a ten-month period helps young participants develop valuable leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.
Youth in Philanthropy A grantmaking board of 8th to 12th grade students from throughout the region is given the opportunity and responsibility to review and deliberate grant proposals, and award grant requests up to $1,000 each for youth-led service projects. Students gain firsthand experience with the art of giving, communication, group dynamics, and the value of community service. Over a ten-year period, young members have granted more than $220,000.
Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative Established in 2003, this statewide collaboration of the Northland Foundation and the five other Minnesota Initiative Foundations works at the community, regional, and state levels to improve early care and education. Their common goal is to ensure that all children have a healthy life of learning, achieving, and succeeding. Currently there are 12 Early Childhood Coalitions in northeastern Minnesota and 86 throughout rural Minnesota.
Minnesota Thrive Initiative This groundbreaking pilot program is focused on helping communities and families in rural Minnesota to better address the healthy social and emotional development of children birth to age five. Among its goals are building public awareness about infant and early childhood mental health; improving service access; and advocating for the mental health needs of young children and their families.
KIDS PLUS Institute Building on its years of experience in delivering training and networking opportunities in the region, the foundation created the KIDS PLUS Institute as a formal venue to deliver meetings, training sessions, conferences, and presentations focused on child and youth development topics. National and international experts share their insights with a regional audience.
AGE to age: bringing generations together An intergenerational program that promotes understanding and brings together youth and older adults to design grassroots solutions to meet community needs. Among the many intriguing projects being implemented in the 10 participating AGE to age sites, which include three Indian reservations, are fitness and recreation programs, teaching and preserving cultural traditions, beautification projects, and community gatherings.
The ten AGE to age sites are Bois Forte Reservation, Chisholm, Cloquet, Floodwood, Fond du Lac Reservation, Grand Portage Reservation, Itasca Area, McGregor, Moose Lake, and Proctor.