Social Innovation Fund Literacy Grant Awarded to Clayton Early Learning




Denver, CO – February 29, 2012 – Clayton Early Learning announced today it was awarded a highly selective Social Innovation Fund grant to advance early childhood literacy in Colorado.  The grant was one of only 11 awarded across the state based on a competitive application process through Mile High United Way. The grants are part of a growing statewide movement to strengthening early literacy.

Clayton Early Learning focuses on building early literacy skills through its Educare School and Play and Learn Groups.  The grant from Mile High United Way will go toward expanding the number of children reached through these programs and toward deepening teacher professional development and parent education regarding support of very young children’s language and literacy development leading to later reading success. Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers will partner with Clayton Early Learning in the project so that children served by both organizations will benefit.

“We are extremely excited to have been selected as a recipient of the Mile High United Way Social Innovation Fund grant,” said Charlotte Brantley, Clayton Early Learning President and CEO.  “We know that children’s ability to read on grade level by end of third grade begins in the crib. This grant will allow us to ensure that parents and early childhood teachers are well-prepared to support those critical early language skills that create the foundation for later reading.”

“Children learn to read and write through experiencing the wonder of storytelling and books,” said Dr. Pamela Harris Mile High Montessori Early Learning Centers President and CEO.  “These experiences create the foundation for lifelong learning. I’m delighted to be a part of this greater initiative that will ensure the success of our children.”

“Mile High United Way received 38 worthy applications for this early literacy grant,” said Mile High United Way President and CEO Christine Benero.  “That so many organizations are committed to literacy in Colorado means that kids across the state are going to have more and more opportunities to learn to read.   We’re especially excited to begin working with Clayton Early Learning and the Colorado United Way network on this literacy movement.”

Mile High United Way announced last October that it had received a $3.6 million grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service.   As one of only five organizations around the country to receive an award last year, Mile High United Way utilized an extensive review and interview process involving 60 community and education leaders and over a hundred hours of review.  The grants, called Social Innovation Fund grants, require both Mile High United Way and the final recipients to raise matching funds as part of the criteria for accepting a grant.

“The matching fund requirement is a powerful incentive for communities to band together and support early literacy,” said Brantley.  “We’ve already received strong support for our work in helping kids create a strong foundation for later reading and to enter kindergarten ready for success.  The Social Innovation Fund grant will undoubtedly help us build on that and share what we learn with other programs.”

Other criteria for receiving a grant center on effectiveness and expandability of the funded program.  Programs that show demonstrable results in helping kids read and the capacity to expand effectively qualified for funding consideration.  The organizations that were awarded grants showed particular success in developing methods and models for working with early literacy.

“We want every third grader to read at grade level.  That’s what this movement is all about,” said Benero.  “The Social Innovation Fund grants enable us to start at birth and work right through third grade to engage at every stage of literacy learning.”

About Clayton Early Learning
Clayton Early Learning is Colorado’s leading catalyst in providing and improving early education during the critical prenatal-to-5 period.  The non-profit organization, which includes an onsite Educare School, harnesses the synergy of research, practice and training to close learning gaps for the children who need it most.  Through its public and private partnerships, Clayton Early Learning drives system change throughout the state championing the fact that quality early education can and does change lives. For more information visit

About the Corporation for National and Community Service
The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve America and the Social Innovation Fund, and leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve. For more information, visit

About Mile High United Way
Mile High United Way is the first United Way in the country. Combining the collective strength of more than 40,000 donors, 800 local businesses, over 100 non-profit partners, and local and state government, Mile High United Way has been leading the movement for positive change for 125 years. Mile High United Way unites people, ideas and resources to advance the common good and concentrates on helping people of all ages, in every stage of their lives, through three interconnected areas of change: School Readiness, Youth Success and Adult Self-Sufficiency. For more information, visit  For more information on the Social Innovation Fund grant, visit

SEE THE ARTICLE AND VIDEO FEATURED IN The Denver Post on March 1, 2012

Click here to read the full article in The Denver Post with photos.

Click here to watch The Denver Post video featuring Clayton Early Learning.