Consumers Energy gives ''Great Start'' kids a brighter future

Young children in northern Michigan have had their future made a little brighter thanks to a Michigan electric company.

Consumers Energy announced Monday they will be giving $71,000 to four northern Michigan organizations:

$30,000 to Great Start Traverse Bay/Manistee for childcare scholarships

$20,000 to Great Start Wexford/Missaukee for a parent education program

$11,000 to Great Start Collaborative of Cheboygan, Otsego, & Presque Isle for preschool scholarships

$10,000 to Great Start Collaborative of Charlevoix, Emmet, and Northern Antrim counties for childcare scholarships and a parent education program

Representatives of the Great Start program said the Consumers Energy Foundation has helped in the past and they're very generous throughout the state. Mary Manners, the Collaborative Coordinator of the Traverse Bay/Manistee Great Start, said "This is huge! This is a tremendous opportunity for them to partner with the Great Start collaboratives across the state to help families and help kids-it means a lot. We're really looking at this as a great opportunity to help families through emergency times and to cover gaps, and to support our low income working families."

Manner also said that "different families have different needs in terms of their childcare and preschool funding. One family might need just a few hundred dollars a month to help and others might need a considerably larger amount. What we do is look at the needs of a child and what's best for the family and then we help out as much as we can."

Manner said if a family is in need, the best thing for them to do is to talk with their current childcare or preschool provider, or contact the NW Michigan Community Action Agency.

The Great Start program is also always accepting donations.