Greater Mankato United Way

Promoting Literacy

Photo by Pat Christman

The Olseth Family Foundation, partnering with the Greater Mankato Area United Way, is helping fourth-graders become life-long learners.


An Olseth Family Foundation gift to the United Way provided about 1,500 copies of Where the Sidewalk Ends to fourth-grade students throughout the Mankato region. During the 2016-2017 school year, the Olseth Family Foundation, United Way staff and volunteers distributed books to students at 24 regional schools, reading poems with each class. Local Public Safety officers, retirees and corporate volunteers participated in the deliveries. This Project ensures that students of all backgrounds have direct access to books and poetry, inspiring them to be lifelong readers and learners.


In 2020, we are delighted to continue the tradition of providing all 1,700 fourth grade students in Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Nicollet and Waseca counties brand-new, hard copy books of “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein. Mr. Silverstein has the unusual ability to reach not only children, but their parents, so we encourage families read this book together.


Because we could not present the books in person, Jon Olseth wrote a poem especially for this year’s students, read to the students via a video made by Mankato United Way CEO Barb Kaus: view it here >


Read more, from the Mankato Free Press, by Brian Barola: Fourth Graders Receive Gift of Books


Pictured at left, Jon Olseth holds a microphone for Eleanor Krediet at Roosevelt Elementary School as she reads from her new book.