Stories of Service


By: Katie Boehm


PNC Foundation Grants $580,000 to ServeMinnesota to Close Opportunity Gap in Kindergarten Readiness for Math, Reading

Funding to support development of programs to build skills for pre-K students

MINNEAPOLIS, (Jan. 10, 2018) – ServeMinnesota announced today that it will receive a $580,000 grant from the PNC Foundation to support early numeracy, math and reading proficiency for pre-kindergarten students. The grant is the largest the PNC Foundation has made in Minnesota and is also the largest recorded investment in early numeracy skills from a private funder in the state.

The grant will help address the needs of underserved children in school districts where 40 percent of Minnesota eighth graders are not proficient in algebra, and one in three third graders are not proficient in reading. Reading by third grade and success in eighth grade algebra is highly predictive of high school graduation and college and career success. The grant will support the development and delivery of age-appropriate math interventions, take-home materials for family engagement and capacity building for preschool providers to help meet kindergarten readiness goals.

Experts in mathematics have uncovered a strong connection between skills measured at preschool and math achievement at age 15. While the emphasis on reading proficiency is essential, research shows that early development of mathematics skills, in addition to reading proficiency, might be an even greater predictor of later success. 

“We are so grateful to the PNC Foundation for their leadership and support of early education programs in our state,” said Audrey Suker, chief executive officer of ServeMinnesota. “The research is clear about which skills should be the focal point of preschool math interventions, and with this grant, we will be able to deliver a program that will ensure that children are ready for Kindergarten and future academic success, regardless of family income.”  

“The return on investments in high-quality, early childhood education is significant and long lasting, positively impacting our children, society and economy,” said Kate Kelly, PNC regional president for Minneapolis-St. Paul. “Through PNC Grow Up Great®, our signature initiative supporting early childhood education, we contribute to the future of this region and help close learning readiness gaps for the business and civic leaders of tomorrow.”

ServeMinnesota has a demonstrated track-record for developing solutions by combining the people power of AmeriCorps and evidence-based strategies to address persistent gaps for student success. Through groundbreaking programs like Reading Corps and Math Corps, ServeMinnesota has been a leader in advancing proven models in educational achievement. This initial investment from the PNC Foundation will fund a pilot that builds on these models to bring early numeracy interventions to preschools across the state of Minnesota.

About The PNC Foundation
The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (, actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

About ServeMinnesota
ServeMinnesota is a catalyst for positive social impact, working with AmeriCorps members and community partners to meet critical needs in Minnesota. As a nonprofit organization, it improves the lives of Minnesotans by offering life-changing service opportunities to thousands of individuals who focus on education, affordable housing, employment, or the environment. Because of its strong partnerships with private and public funders, including the Minnesota Department of Education, ServeMinnesota has created two innovative strategic initiatives, Minnesota Reading Corps and Minnesota Math Corps, that are working to close the achievement gap and help struggling students become successful learners. Combining the people power of AmeriCorps with research-based strategies, ServeMinnesota addresses the most intractable problems and shares its proven practices nationally. For more information, visit

  PNC Regional President Kate Kelly plays Super Math Bowl Minnesota with pre-K students (photo)
PNC Regional President Kate Kelly plays Super Math Bowl Minnesota with pre-K students (photo)

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