Northwest Resource Center

The Great Start to Quality Northwest Resource Center is a program of United Way of Northwest Michigan and serves ten counties in Northwest Lower Michigan: Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Manistee, Leelanau, Missaukee, and Wexford. Our team of highly qualified coaches and support personnel help providers find training and support for professional development and quality improvement, help families find child care and preschool, and help businesses develop ways to support employees’ access to child care.

Our team is embedded across the ten-county service area to provide local training and technical assistance, lead learning communities and provider study groups, and facilitate distribution of supplies and Lending Library items. Our Lending Library contains hundreds of items that support children’s learning through play as well as curriculum and professional resources. Training and technical assistance, learning communities, and study groups are available through in-person, virtual and hybrid platforms. Most trainings are offered free of charge unless otherwise noted.

The Resource Center is also a source of high quality early literacy supports for caregiver-educators and parents. Early literacy materials – like books and activities – and information – like the Essentials of Early Literacy tool kits and trainings – are available to help ensure every young child develops the early literacy skills they need to be a successful reader. Visit our web-based literacy resource here.

Resource Center Services Include:

  • Professional Development trainings, workshops and conferences open to all child care/preschool providers; most trainings are open to parents as well
  • A Lending Library that offers themed bins, curriculum and professional resources, child development materials, gross motor items, assessment tools, and more, for use by providers and parents; there is no cost to borrow Lending Library items and suggestions for new items are welcomed
  • A team of highly qualified Quality Improvement Coaches who support programs as they navigate Great Start to Quality including on-site, individual consultation for home- and center-based programs working on quality improvement plans
  • Professional Learning Communities for those who serve Infants and Toddlers
  • Professional networking opportunities for home-based providers and for center directors
  • Informal networking opportunities for providers and families to meet and share information
  • License Exempt Provider Preservice Training (LEPPT) for persons wishing to become license-exempt providers
  • Support for families searching for child care and preschool options
  • Connections to the Great Start Collaboratives and Family Coalitions
  • Technical assistance for providers seeking grants and other assistance from the State of Michigan
  • Technical assistance for local communities participating in child care innovation projects through the Early Childhood Investment Corporation (ECIC) and Michigan Lifelong Education, Advancement and Potential (MiLEAP)
  • Literacy resources including training and workshops, consultation and support for community literacy projects, and free books for families enrolled in family-based child care through our home-grown SPLASH! into Reading project

Northwest Resource Center Staff
Contact Us!

Mary Manner, Co-Director
Cell: 231-632-5510 
Kristin Witt, Co-Director
Cell: 231-342-2980
Heather Bardenhagen, Quality Improvement Coach (Leelanau, Benzie & Grand Traverse)
Infant/Toddler Specialist
Cell: 231-218-9108
Susan Chowen, Quality Improvement Coach (Charlevoix, Emmet & Antrim)
Infant/Toddler Specialist
Cell: 231-675-2022
Rebecca Herbst, Quality Improvement Coach (Wexford, Missaukee & Manistee)
Infant/Toddler Specialist
Cell: 906-450-3670
Jessica Kieng, Quality Improvement Coach (Grand Traverse & Kalkaska)
Cell: 909-292-6070
Kris Weger, Quality Improvement Specialist (Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Manistee, Leelanau, Missaukee, & Wexford)
Cell: (231) 431-0016

Community Partners & Resources

Business connecting to local resources to support child care providers. Select this link to learn about supports in your area.

We work with many people and organizations in the community to provide you, your family and your program with the resources you need to help your family and children succeed.

Professional Development

A profile of a face with a gear for the brain. Select this link to take you to information on professional development opportunities.

There are professional development trainings available throughout the state. You can search for a training near you or about a specific subject through MiRegistry.

Contact us!

If you have additional questions or need help, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Contact the Northwest Resource Center

4075 Copper Ridge Drive
Traverse City MI 49684

877-614-7328 (toll free)