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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 programs that serve children from prenatal to five years of age and their families and raise awareness of the importance of the early years.

Rationale We believe that every child deserves a good early start to their life. 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.

"If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil." – Rachel Carson

Read more about the history of this fund here.

What We Fund

We provide grants that support children prenatal to five and the family members, caregivers and other caring adults who can help get them off to the best possible early start in life. Direct service, systems-level work, and advocacy will all be considered. Nonprofit organizations, schools, 3K and 4K programs, nonprofit childcare centers, and tribal and governmental entities are all eligible.

Preference will be given to proposals that are one or more of the following:

  • Collaborative
  • Preventative or offer upstream solutions
  • Innovative
  • Use two-generation or whole family approaches
  • Remove barriers to access for children from marginalized backgrounds

Examples of things we've funded:

  • Outreach and advocacy about the importance of early childhood
  • Equipment, supplies or technology to better serve children, improve curriculum, or engage families
  • Programs providing better access to effective prenatal care
  • Continuing education or trainings for early childhood caregivers and educators, as well as parents
  • Projects with a research component focused on identifying and sharing best practices
  • Strategic planning for early childhood organizations or initiatives
  • Developmental screening

What We Don't Fund

  • Initiatives that don’t serve residents of the Community Foundation service area (Calumet, Outagamie, Shawano and Waupaca counties and the Neenah-Menasha area of Winnebago county).
  • General operating support is typically not funded
  • Fundraisers and fundraising events are typically not funded
  • Capital campaign feasibility studies, projects, or expenses
  • Membership fees

To Apply

Review the general grant policies of the Community Foundation. Grant requests are accepted year-round, and a formal application is not required. In general, grants will be for single year. Applications begin with a conversation. If you have a potential idea or project fitting the guidelines, call, email, or set up a virtual appointment with the staff representative, Carolyn Desrosiers:

Carolyn Desrosiers
Community Engagement Manager