VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach GrowSmart Foundation was selected by the United Way of South Hampton Roads Women United initiative as a recipient of a $25,000 microgrant. 

The $25,000 microgrant was one of two microgrants announced at the United Way of South Hampton Roads Women United’s annual luncheon on Oct. 27. 

Virginia Beach GrowSmart is operated by the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development and works to strengthen school readiness and reading proficiency in children up to age eight. 

The funding will be used toward the GrowSmart Foundation’s Virginia Beach Talks Initiative. It will also enable them to provide LENA START classes for local families with children up to age three. LENA START teaches parents and caregivers how to best communicate with their child to increase language learning, literacy, and community interaction. As a result of United Way’s grant, these classes will be provided free of charge.  

“Women United invests in community solutions that deliver measurable results, particularly for women and children in our community,” said Michele Anderson, president and CEO of United Way of South Hampton Roads. “This particular grant is intended to support innovative programs using brain science and LENA Start is truly the perfect fit. We were so inspired by the results the program has already achieved and are thrilled to be partnering with the GrowSmart Foundation to impact even more children and families.” 

“It is vital that we invest in innovative early childhood solutions to strengthen and support the healthy development of children and lift up the important role of our families and adult caregivers,” said Virginia Beach GrowSmart Coordinator Barb Lito. “What an honor to receive funding from Women United to support families, women and children with innovative strength-based solutions. This is an investment in our future.”   

For more information about Virginia Beach GrowSmart, including their LENA START classes, go to