October 2021

Great Start Collaborative News and Events

Great Start Collaborative Quarterly Meetings

Our first Quarterly meeting of the 21/22 year was a great success. Parent Liaison Ashley Drenth and the Trusted Advisors talked about all the great connections they have been making with local families. Talking Is Teaching Campaign Manager Jen Stroven and Literacy Consultant Katy Clark shared a crosswalk of Early Literacy Essentials, birth to Grade 3.

Please plan to join us for the December Quarterly. Please RSVP.


Families Connect: Parent Coalition

Dog Reading

PARENTS & CAREGIVERS: Have you heard of Talking is Teaching?
Are you looking for ways to help support the development of your little one's early literacy skills?
Want to know more about what it means to be a Trusted Messenger and opportunities to get involved in some exciting Talking is Teaching projects in our community?
Please join us for our November Families Connect Parent Coalition Meeting where we will have Jen Stroven, Talking is Teaching Campaign Manager, as a guest presenter!

Sign up at under the "Events" tab, or using the following links:

Wednesday 11/17/21 7:30PM

Thursday 11/18/21 2:00PM


Talking is Teaching Early Literacy Campaign


The Kalamazoo County Talking is Teaching campaign has been busy launching the next year of projects and partnerships. We were excited to receive a grant from the Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation that is enabling us to fund special projects with many partners including the new childcare development center at the Kalamazoo Literacy Council, literacy materials for new families at KCReady4s and in GSRP classrooms, literacy bags available at WIC offices, and special materials at St. Luke's Diaper Bank's distribution events all year long. We look forward to sharing how these projects are impacting our families and community in the months to come!

As you go about your work supporting families with young children, consider how the campaign might support your efforts to help change the trajectory of early literacy development. This October, explore our literacy toolkit Let's Talk About What Makes You Unique and for November, Let's Talk About Feelings



2021 Youth Literature Seminar


November 12, 2021 | 8:30 am–3:30 pm | Zoom

FREE! | Registration is Now Open!

Featuring Award-Winning Authors

Gene Luen Yang, Betsy Bird, and Meg Medina.

This 44th Annual Youth Literature Seminar will focus on healing and navigating the changes we’ve all experienced, while also concentrating on tools we can use to help each other, ourselves, and foster change. Join us and our many speakers for a day of community and celebration as we move forward.

This event is free and open to the public.

Space will fill up fast, so register today!


Great Start Collaborative Staff

Sarah Drumm, Program Coordinator, 269-250-9635

Deirdre Bartells, Program Assistant, 269-250-9664

Ashley Drenth, Parent Liaison, 269-250-9665

Jen Stroven, Talking is Teaching Campaign Manager, 269-250-9701


Great Start Collaborative Vision

A Great Start for every child in Kalamazoo County: safe, healthy and successful in school and life.

Great Start Collaborative Mission

The purpose of the Great Start Collaborative is to ensure a coordinated system of community resources and family supports in Kalamazoo County.

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