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Community Engagement Manager
Carolyn Desrosiers


[email protected]

John and Sally Mielke Early Years Fund for the Fox Valley Region

Families of Funds


To support innovative ideas and programs serving the needs of children and their families from birth to five years of age.

Rationale Research demonstrates the importance of early childhood experiences on cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development and on outcomes for children, families and the community.

Background The community established this fund to honor the contributions of both John and Sally Mielke to the overall health and welfare of all community members. In addition to their contributions to healthcare and education, they have been strongly committed to our youngest community members. This endowment fund carries on their legacy by focusing on the earliest years of a child’s life. Read more about the history of this fund here.

What We Fund

We are looking for innovative ideas for which a small grant may have a large impact. Preference will be given to proposals that are preventative or offer upstream solutions, and have the potential to benefit the broader community. Collaborative projects are welcome. Priority will be given to projects that support children or families facing significant challenges, or improve the community in a way that positively impacts children and families.  For example, the committee might consider:

  • Early childhood development education or information for parents
  • Programs providing better access to effective prenatal care
  • Professional development opportunities or trainings on early childhood for staff
  • Projects with a research component focused on identifying and sharing best practices
  • Community-wide outreach about the importance of early childhood learning
  • Textbooks or other purchases essential for a new innovative curriculum
  • Methods to improve teacher quality or parent engagement
  • Strategic planning for early childhood organizations or initiatives

Priority will be given to proposals which have all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Focused, well-defined project
  • Realistic outcomes and clear measures
  • Realistic budget
  • Collaboration
  • Clearly defined need
  • Financial support from this fund should play a substantive role in making the project happen

Grants will be given only to initiatives within the Community Foundation service area (Calumet, Outagamie, Shawano and Waupaca counties and the Neenah-Menasha area of Winnebago county). Successful projects must meet the general grant policies of the Community Foundation.

What We Don't Fund

  • Ongoing general operating support
  • Fundraisers
  • Campaign feasibility studies, projects, or expenses
  • Previously incurred expenses
  • Membership fees

To Apply

Grants will be made at least annually.  In general, grants will be for single year. Applications begin with a conversation. After reviewing the Community Foundation’s general grant policies, if you have a potential idea or project fitting the guidelines, call the staff representative, Carissa Kranz.


Carolyn Desrosiers
Community Engagement Manager