Human Services

Think Small

Leaders in Early Learning

aka Redleaf Press   |   St. Paul, MN   |  www.thinksmall.org

Mission

The mission of Think Small is to advance quality care and education of children in their crucial early years. Think Small provides a wide range of programs and activities based on research and best practices from the early childhood field. Our direct services, focused on families and child care providers in Minnesota, fall into three areas: (1) Preparing Early Childhood Professionals through a range of training and coaching supports, along with high-quality resources from our library and Redleaf Press; (2) Strengthening Families by connecting them to high-quality care through financial assistance programs; and (3) Catalyzing Change by being a leader in advancing issues of access and quality in the early childhood field.

Ruling year info

1976

President and CEO

Barbara Yates

Main address

10 Yorkton Court

St. Paul, MN 55117 USA

Show more addresses

Formerly known as

Resources for Child Caring

EIN

41-1260581

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Human Service Organizations (P20)

Community Improvement, Capacity Building N.E.C. (S99)

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Think Small’s mission is to advance quality care and education of children in their crucial early years. We believe that placing a priority on children and their families through access to high-quality early care and education is critical to closing Minnesota’s opportunity gap, thus eliminating the state’s achievement gap. These gaps constitute a crisis. Our state's future depends on the success of our education system to prepare all children for the opportunities that await them. Think Small’s theory of change to address these opportunity gaps in the early years is to provide equitable access to high-quality early childhood care to children most in need. Since 1971, Think Small has been a pioneer in the movement to ensure Minnesota’s youngest children are receiving high quality care and education, thus laying the foundation for every child to reach their fullest potential.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Professional Development, Consultation, and Coaching

Think Small provides metro-wide professional development opportunities focused on the essential elements of high-quality care. Opportunities include classes and workshops provided in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Oromo, Amharic, and Karen; individual and site-based consultation and coaching support; business support to help maintain a successful childcare business; and career guidance for certification and licensing. We also connect providers with quality improvement grants and emergency funding for early childhood programs.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Think Small’s multilingual Outreach staff connects with historically under-served communities, including those in low-income neighborhoods, English Language Learners (ELL), communities of color, immigrant and refugee families, so they can fully engage in Minnesota’s early childhood care and education system. Outreach staff work to expand the reach of Think Small services and identify needs and gaps within these communities. Staff assists families and providers navigating complex government systems, connecting them to resources and services available at Think Small and other organizations. Staff provide language translation and interpretation for ELL providers and families.

Population(s) Served
Adults

A leading publisher of curriculum, management, professional development, and business resources for adults who care for, teach, and nurture young children, Redleaf Press publishes on a broad range of topics. These products are designed to assist early childhood professionals in using stimulating, child-centered practices based on sound and proven theory about learning and child development. Annually, over 200,000 products are distributed to customers both in the U.S. and abroad. Redleaf books are translated into 12 different languages with over 56 books in translation. Over 50% of Redleaf’s books are available as e-books and in other digital formats. Over 700,000 catalogs are mailed to customers annually.

Population(s) Served
Caregivers
Adults

A branch of the St. Paul Public Library, the Debra S. Fish Early Childhood Library, is available statewide. Now numbering over 6,000 items, the library’s collection is a part of Minnesota’s public inter-library loan system and materials can be delivered to all local libraries.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Think Small serves providers and families with targeted financial supports. Think Small administers eligibility-based scholarships for families to enroll children in programs with Parent Aware quality ratings in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. We also administer Basic Sliding Fee Child Care Assistance for eligible low-income families in Ramsey County.

Population(s) Served
Parents
Adults

Think Small is committed to strengthening family’s access to high quality care as well as increasing their knowledge about early childhood development and preparing children for Kindergarten. Think Small ParentPowered texting delivers evidence-based texting messages to parents and caregivers, across MN, for children birth to 5 years old. These short text messages encourage parents to do fun and engaging activities with their children to increase their literacy and numeracy development as well as tips on how to be healthy.

Population(s) Served
Parents
Adults

Think Small works across the state activating field leaders and other stakeholders across systems on issues that concern our youngest children. This includes civic engagement of child care providers and parents, with an intentional focus on raising the voice of diverse cultural, refugee, and immigrant communities. To support this work, Think Small provides regular communications to subscribers of our Action Center and publishes regular blog posts. Think Small participates in a variety of state and national early learning policy coalitions and work-groups and plays an important role in advancing policy efforts such as Parent Aware, Early Learning Scholarships, Child Care Assistance and most recently the economic development of the childcare sector. By leading from the development of policy concepts through the piloting stages and by helping take promising initiatives to scale, Think Small has helped improve access to quality early learning opportunities and has helped build accountability in the system. Think Small continually focuses on our efforts ensuring that families have a variety of high-quality early learning opportunities that will put their child on the path to school and life success.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Think Small develops and supports interventions that target low-income families, especially those that address the achievement and opportunity gaps between white children and children of color. Currently, we are working on three large innovation projects: a new Child Care Business Program, which is supports current/new providers looking to open or expand a licensed family child care program or child care center; expanding Redleaf Press’s expertise and content into realms beyond publishing of printed materials, and leveraging technology to expand the type and scope of coaching supports to early childhood providers.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Awards

Public Health Hero Award 2012

City of Minneapolis

Affiliations & memberships

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) 2012

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Aligned with our 2019-23 Strategic Plan and our population level result that “All children will be ready for kindergarten,” we look to accomplish the following goals: Prepare Providers: Think Small works to retain and increase the number and percentage of high-quality childcare slots in the seven-county metro area. We also work to retain and increase the number and percentage of licensed family- and center-based child care providers participating in and earning high ratings from Parent Aware. We do this by providing training, peer-to-peer learning communities, and coaching in multiple languages. Targeted outreach efforts are focused in low-income and diverse communities across the metro area. Strengthen Families: Support low-income families in Hennepin and Ramsey County through increased access to Early Learning Scholarships for families to enroll their children in programs with Parent Aware quality ratings. We also work to increase the number of individuals who sign-up for our ParentPowered Texts, an evidenced based, age-targeted, text message program for parents and early childhood providers to enhance parenting skills and support children’s healthy cognitive, social, physical, and emotional development. Catalyze Change: Increase and strengthen our advocacy and policy efforts to educate, organize and mobilize early learning stakeholders to advocate for policies that increase access to high-quality early learning programs. We do this by activating our statewide e-advocacy network of stakeholders and offer advocacy training's in the Twin Cities metro and Greater Minnesota to providers, parents and individuals from early childhood and grassroots organizations. Finally, Think Small will continue to strengthen its position as the go-to resource for all things early childhood in the seven-county metro area and across the state.

Early Childhood Quality: Increase and retain the number and percentage of licensed family and center-based child care providers participating in Parent Aware in the seven-county metro area. • Increase percent of programs that have earned a three or four star Parent Aware rating • Decrease the number of programs closing that have earned a three or four star Parent Aware rating • Decrease the number of programs hesitant to participating in Parent Aware Early Childhood Access: Fully optimize all financial assistance funds Think Small administers. • Controlling/managing/reallocating administrative costs in order to optimize available funding for children and families • Educating eligible families on the most efficient use of funding supports to cover the costs of high-quality early care and education • Identify other pots of money to braid with early learning scholarship funds Parent Engagement: Parents and caregivers of children under five and expecting parents are supporting and preparing their children for kindergarten. • Think Small will advance and develop innovative ideas that allow us to educate, engage and empower parents and caregivers so they have the information and resources they need to prepare their children for kindergarten • Think Small will commit to fostering meaningful engagement with parents and caregivers by applying a ‘parent engagement’ lens to our work throughout the agency Policy: Create and change legislation to support increases in access to quality early learning opportunities that meet the needs of families and increase the number of high-quality slots. • Fully fund early learning scholarships • Increase Parent Aware participation • Ensure CCAP funding meets all CDBG re-authorization requirements and is tied to quality • Ensure families have robust high-quality early care and education options, including LFCC and CCC, that meet their needs • Every child receives a school readiness assessment during transition to kindergarten • Provide strategic leadership in early childhood efforts as applicable • Engage Think Small staff in policy strategy plan

We are skilled at meeting the early learning workforce where they are and supporting them in building their quality to support school readiness of the children they serve. We serve the entire state of Minnesota as experts and leaders in early learning. We are managed by a board of directors who are knowledgeable community leaders with a wide range of backgrounds from corporate business, non-profit management, academia and policy. Think Small has has almost a 100 outstanding employees, 86 full-time and 11 part-time who speak English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Oromo, Amharic, and Karen. Finally, Think Small is supported by three cultural Advisory Committees (Somali, Southeast Asian and Spanish) with 30 members to help guide our work. Think Small provides a wide range of programs and activities based on research and best practice from the early childhood field. Our direct services are focused on families and providers in Minnesota, and Redleaf Press publications serve customers around the globe.

Early Childhood Quality How Much: • Increase the percent of programs who have earned a three or four star Parent Aware rating from 15% (July 2018) to 20% (Jan 2020) • Monitor and analyze Parent Aware star rating reports every 6 months How Well: • Effectively analyze data to reduce number of child care providers leaving Parent Aware and/or closing • Effectively analyze data to increase number of child care providers participating in Parent Aware Difference Made: • More child care providers will earn a three or four star Parent Aware rating resulting in more opportunities for young children to receive the skills and knowledge to be ready for school and life Early Childhood Access How Much: • Think Small will ensure 97% of state early learning scholarship – Pathway 1 (PW1) dollars are spent each biennium in Hennepin and Ramsey counties • Monitor and analyze Parent Aware star rating reports every 6 months How Well: • 90% of children newly-awarded an early learning scholarship (PW1) in Hennepin and Ramsey counties will enroll in a program • Children newly awarded an early learning scholarship (PW1) who chose a program will enroll within 25 days of award date Difference Made: • An increased number and percent of income eligible children (185% of poverty or below) in seven-county metro area will enter kindergarten with at least one year of high-quality early care and education programming Parent Engagement How Much: • Think Small will make 200,000 parent engagement connections • Monitor and analyze Parent Aware star rating reports every 6 months How Well: • High Touch: Direct connection with parents/caregivers with impact/results seen | Goal: 15,000 ‘High-Touch’ connections (includes texting enrollments) • Medium Touch: Targeted connection with parents/caregivers made, although unclear if information/resources provided are used | Goal: 25,000 ‘Medium-Touch’ connections (parent outreach events) • Low Touch: Indirect connection to parents/caregivers to reach out and inform | Goal: 160,000* ‘Low-Touch’ connections (social media) Difference Made: • Parents and caregivers have the information and resources to prepare their children for kindergarten Policy How Much: • Increase the amount of money available statewide for early learning scholarships by $75M • Increase the percentage of Parent Aware participating programs in the seven-county metro area from 25% (July 2018) to 30% (Jan 2020) • Increase the percentage of children receiving a school readiness assessment during their transition to kindergarten from 10% to 20% How Well: • Efficient utilizing all of the state early learning scholarship dollars allocated by the legislature • More effective transitions for programs moving from one star to four stars Difference Made: • An increase in the number and percentage of children will have access to and attend high-quality early care and education prior to entering kindergarten

If children have access to high-quality child care with sufficient dosage they will be ready for kindergarten. We stand on the result of being ready for kindergarten. Think Small’s contribution is to ensure high-quality early care and education is available and accessible. Think Small’s mission is to advance quality care and education of children in their crucial early years. This mission statement describes our purpose and answers the fundamental question “Why does Think Small exist?” To achieve this mission, Think Small must embrace a continuous improvement process in which we seek to answer the question: “How do we advance quality care and education of children in their crucial early years?” Accumulating evidence shows that access to quality early childhood experiences will result in positive outcomes for young children, both in regards to kindergarten readiness and lifelong success. There is a robust set of research findings, both locally and nationally, supporting this conclusion. Minnesota currently utilizes Parent Aware, the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), to measure quality early childhood experiences. As a QRIS, Parent Aware is unique in that it is developed and implemented through the lens of kindergarten readiness. In order for us to make progress on our population level result, we are aware that we must address issues of racism and equity to eliminate barriers to opportunities and achievement for our youngest learners. This includes the use of dis-aggregated data, whenever possible, to track our progress in closing the opportunity gaps that are persistent in Minnesota.

Financials

Think Small
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Think Small

Board of directors
as of 9/27/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Rob Johnson

Past President, Cargill Foundation

Term: 2019 - 2021


Board co-chair

Tanya Skogerboe

Sleep Number by Select Comfort

Term: 2019 - 2021

Andre Dukes

Northside Achievement Zone

Margeaux King

Ecolab

Weston Merrick

Minnesota Management & Budget

Mariam Mohamed

Intercultural Strategies

Tracy Nordstrom

Consultant & Change Agent

Arthur Rolnick

Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of MN

Sarah Wade

Nuveen Asset Management

Marilyn Burnett

Community Volunteer

Megan Gunnar

Director of the Institute of Child Development, University of MN

Karen Hilding

Community Volunteer

Marshall Johnson

Arctic Capital

Yolanda Majors

Hurston Institute for Learning & Development

Tracy Nordstrom

Consultant and Change Agent

Jaylon Rosenblum

Manhattan Toy Company

Fred Senn

Fallon Worldwide

Jim Sparks

Nexben

Andrea Stern

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago/Minneapolis

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Keywords

children, child care, childcare, early childhood education, early childhood development, early childhood publications, Resources for Child Caring, Think Small, early learning