United Way and Schmidt Foundation announce grant program for Child Care Initiatives

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

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The United Way of Reno County, Hutchinson Community Foundation, Greater Hutch and the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce are pleased to announce a $50,000 grant from the Schmidt Foundation, for the purpose of addressing childcare system improvements across Reno County. 

The $50,000 gift from the Schmidt Foundation to the United Way of Reno County will be leveraged with $40,000 in additional funding from Hutchinson Community Foundation’s donor advised funds, $10,000 from the Davis Foundation, and an economic development grant from Greater Hutch and the Hutch Chamber. The purpose of the funding will be to address several key childcare priorities that have been identified by a coalition of partners. The United Way of Reno County through their existing work of K-Ready Reno County and the recently formed Childcare Systems Group is leading this effort. 

Earlier this year, a group of community leaders came together to identify the most significant early childhood challenges in Reno County, under the leadership of the United Way’s K-Ready initiative. The gift from the Schmidt Foundation is the culmination of the collaborative work of many agencies and partners across Reno County who are working to solve some of the most difficult childcare challenges around affordability and availability, primarily in infant and toddler and early childhood care. 

Kurt David who serves as both Chief Executive Officer of Eagle Communications and as a Trustee of the Schmidt Foundation stated, “The Schmidt Foundation strives to impact Economic Development, Education, and Healthcare in our region.  Without question, providing available and affordable childcare achieves each of these tenets.  We applaud the United Way of Reno County, the Hutchinson Community Foundation, and those providing individual gifts for recognizing the importance of childcare and addressing this need.  We at the Schmidt Foundation are proud to be associated with this project, and we know Bob and Pat Schmidt would be as well.”

“This grant from the Schmidt Foundation is so timely, helpful and generous,” said Aubrey Abbott Patterson, President and CEO of the Hutchinson Community Foundation. “Our donor advisors immediately stepped up to support this with matching funds because of the lifelong impact it will have on children and families across Reno County.”
“We are so grateful for the support and generosity of the Schmidt Foundation and other donors who have elevated early childhood readiness to the top of the priority list of needs identified by the United Way,” said Lisa Gleason, Director of the United Way of Reno County. 

“When we met with Nancy Swain and Kurt David earlier this year to discuss local challenges that might fit the intent of the Schmidt Foundation, the needs of our childcare community immediately came to mind. Workforce readiness and taking care of families is vitally important to continuing to grow our local economy. Businesses have expressed that finding ready access to care for infants and toddlers has become a challenge for young families in Reno County. We are pleased to be able to identify issues that are common to our members, and are so appreciative of the partners who have stepped forward to provide resources to solve the shortage of childcare availability in Reno County,” said Debra Teufel, President & CEO of the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber. 

“The legacy of Bob and Pat Schmidt, founders of EAGLE Communications, continue on through the Schmidt Foundation.” said Nancy Swain, Market Manager of EAGLE Media in Hutchinson. “Bob and Pat were committed to the communities they served and now employee-owned EAGLE Media in Hutchinson is honored that funds will be used to create a long-term positive impact right here in our community. Our hope is that these funds will provide a catalyst to begin solving the critical childcare need, and in turn, will make Hutchinson a better place to work and live!”

The purpose of the funds will be to engage in a study related to the feasibility and market needs of Reno County for additional childcare resources, and to provide existing providers with information and resources to continue to enhance their services and remain viable and strong. The group also is working on advocacy for additional state and local resources that are needed to solve long-term needs in the childcare community such as apprenticeships, training, workforce certifications for centers and home operators, and advocacy at the state and local level for future needs. United Way of Reno County will continue to seek matching grants to address early childhood issues. 

More information on the Schmidt Foundation may be found here: http://schmidtfoundation.net/.

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