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Pathway 1 Early Learning Scholarships
Early Learning Scholarship

An Early Learning Scholarship – Pathway 1 can help make it more affordable for your child to attend high-quality child care and early education. Early learning opportunities prepare children for kindergarten. Scholarships amounts are based on application eligibility.

The amount paid to your child care or preschool program is based on their Parent Aware rating. Parents must use their scholarship at a program with a current Parent Aware rating.

Families may apply year-round. Children that applied in the past, but were denied, must re-apply. Scholarships are awarded throughout the year. Think Small accepts applications for families living in Ramsey and Hennepin County.

For more information on how to access an application, please select the application tab.

Please contact Think Small at 651-641-6604 or email if you have questions about filling out the application.

Minnesota Department of Education Logo

Funding provided by the Minnesota Department of Education using state funding to support administration of early learning scholarship, 124D.165.

Eligibility Requirements

County Residence

Think Small awards families who live in Hennepin and Ramsey counties

Child’s Age

To qualify, a child’s age must be 3 or 4 years old on September 1, 2023 and not yet enrolled in kindergarten. OR Children not yet 3 years by 9/1/23 may be considered if at least one of the following is met:

  • The child is the younger sibling of a currently awarded child: and attends the same program, as long as funds are available
  • The child is in foster care or in need of child protective services
  • The family has experienced homelessness in the past 24 months
  • The parent is under the age of 21 and currently pursuing a high school or general education equivalency diploma (GED)


Families prove with paystubs, W2s, Taxes, child support payments, etc., an annual gross income of no more than 185% of Federal Income Poverty Guidelines.

Family Size Gross Income Family Size Gross Income
2 $36,482 6 $74,518
3 $45,991 7 $84,027
4 $55,500 8 $93,536
5 $65,009 9** $103,045
**For family units of more than nine members, add $9,509 for each additional member. OR Families prove with a dated participation document listing one of the following programs:
  • MFIP
  • CCAP
  • Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Program (FRLP)
  • CACFP (by income)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • SNAP
  • Head Start
  • Foster Care (Note: applications for children in foster care must be signed and submitted by the county worker)

Hennepin and Ramsey County residents may use one of the applications below.

Please reference eligibility requirements in the Eligibility tab.





If you would like the Early Learning Scholarship application to be sent to you by mail, email or via DocuSign (online application), Click Here.

If you do not live in Ramsey or Hennepin County, contact your county’s Scholarship administrator.

If you live outside of the 7 county metro area, please click here.


Tips for submitting an application

  • Complete all required areas of the scholarship application. The sections marked with an asterisk (*) are required. All other information is optional.
  • INCLUDE the income documents necessary to prove your family’s income eligibility. Pages 5 & 6 describe the documents we accept in two categories, Option 1 & 2.
  • Applications will not be considered for a scholarship without the required documents.
  • Sign and date the scholarship application in ink or use an electronic signature.
  • We accept emailed, faxed or photocopied applications showing a photocopied signature.

Completed applications and attached income document can be:

  • Drop off or Mail: Scholarship Department Think Small 10 Yorkton Court St. Paul, MN 55117
  • Fax: 651-645-0990
  • Additional documents or information updates requested by Think Small, must be submitted within the 30-day deadline.

Early Learning Scholarship FAQs

Click here to read some frequently asked questions.

Awarded Families

Parent Aware Rated Programs

To identify a scholarship eligible, Parent Aware rated early learning program for your child, please click on the link or call 1-888-291-9811


  • Scholarship funds pay for attended days and up to 25 absent days.
  • If you plan to disenroll or stop attending your program, please contact your program and Think Small.
  • An awarded child does not need to apply again but may be eligible to complete a 12-month renewal application.
  • Please contact the Case Manager listed on your award letter for questions about program enrollments, spending, the remaining balance, and 12-month renew procedures.
  • Please see the back of your award letter for more details about your scholarship.
  • A 5 year old’s scholarship ends no later than August 31st due to kindergarten.


Click below to download additional forms:

Early Childhood Professionals

Resources to help child care provider and families.

Billing Information

If you need a payment schedule, please click here.

For questions, or if you are interested in a scholarship information workshop, please contact us at 651-641-6604 or

If your program is not currently participating in Parent Aware and you would like to become Parent Aware rated, please contact Parent Aware Recruiter, Tanisha Lungelow at 651-233-2297.

For scholarship information available in other languages, call 651-665-0150 or 1-866-807-6021

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  • Magaalada gudahed wac: 651-665-0150