More children ready first day of school thanks to new United Way investment

Monday, August 28, 2017

National Kidney Foundation receives $300,000 grant to ensure children’s educational success

United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Bib to Backpack work stands to benefit even more families following a $300,000 federal sub-grant awarded by the organization to National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM). The funds are part of a $6-million grant given last year to United Way from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Social Innovation Fund (SIF) for the organization’s child development work, which offers free resources to parents and caregivers across the tri-county area to improve children’s readiness for kindergarten. In total, nearly $16 million in private funds will be leveraged over four years for even greater impact as United Way and its funded partner are required to match SIF grant dollars, dollar-for-dollar.

In June, United Way awarded SIF sub-grants of at least $100,000 per year for up to three years to ACCESS, CARE of Southeastern Michigan, Leaps & Bounds Family Services and Oakland Family Services. National Kidney Foundation of Michigan joins these organizations in a collective effort to enhance care coordination and increase supports for parents and caregivers to better ensure children’s educational success.

“It is mission number one for the organization to make lasting change in the lives of the people and families we serve,” says Dr. Herman Gray, president and CEO, United Way for Southeastern Michigan. “The SIF grant is designed to fund only those programs with a proven track record, like our Bib to Backpack initiative, and provides opportunities for nonprofits awarded the funds to engage their supporters to invest in these programs so they remain accessible to those who may benefit.”

NKFM is a longstanding partner agency of United Way. In 2011, the agency received a five-year $1.8 million SIF sub-grant. It used the SIF funds to develop an innovative curriculum, Regie’s Rainbow Adventure, aimed at promoting healthy eating and physical activities. More than 2,000 children in Head Start classrooms benefitted from the program. Additionally, NKFM and United Way published the curriculum and their learnings in a book under the same name, “Regie’s Rainbow Adventure,” and now other organizations across the nation may duplicate the program in their communities. The book is available on

At the conclusion of the SIF grant in 2020 and with sub-grants to these five organizations, United Way will have invested nearly $4 million in the futures of children in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

“United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s Bib to Backpack initiative is an innovative approach offering a compelling solution to some of the persistent challenges facing families in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne,” said Lois Nembhard, acting director, Social Innovation Fund. “With the addition of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan to the 2016 fiscal year-funded SIF award, United Way enhances its current Bib to Backpack programming by bridging its continuum of evidence-based parenting interventions and the health care system.”

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About United Way for Southeastern Michigan
United Way for Southeastern Michigan mobilizes the caring power of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to improve lives in measurable and lasting ways throughout the region. The organization is led by a diverse group of volunteers from business, labor, government, human services, education and the community. United Way provides opportunities to invest in the metropolitan Detroit community through volunteerism, advocacy and its annual campaign. United Way is a leader in convening partners to achieve positive outcomes around education, economic prosperity and health. For more information visit


About the Social Innovation Fund

The Social Innovation Fund is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts. SIF positions the federal government to be a catalyst for impact—using public and private resources to find and grow community-based nonprofits with evidence of results. The Social Innovation Fund focuses on overcoming challenges confronting low-income Americans in three areas of priority need: economic opportunity, healthy futures and youth development. To learn more, visit