Learning and Teaching with Fire

October 21, 2014

AIHECYesterday we brought you a post from Kayla Yang-Best focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Today we have a post from Kyle Erickson of Blandin Foundation, who attended the same event and shares takeaways from the Tribal Colleges portion. Thank you Kyle!

Native Americans and African Americans have traveled a very different path through time and place in America. One area of shared experience for the two cultures is a history of governmental and societal policies and systems that have resulted in a largely inequitable educational experience for their young people.

Too often, these communities – and their aggregate educational outcomes – are viewed through the lens of an “achievement gap,” or some other well-intentioned but ultimately negative point of view. “Learning and Teaching with Fire: Lessons from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges (TCUs)” provided a fresh perspective, sharing lessons of significant successes and best practices developed at these minority-serving institutions that can inform and improve education for students from any background.

Tribal College Movement Growing

According to Carrie Billy, director of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), the Tribal College movement has grown from one institution in 1968 to 37 colleges and universities today, comprising 75 campuses that cover 80% of Indian Country and serve nearly 90,000 learners through academic and extension courses. Half of enrolled Native Americans attending college today are at a TCU. With help from these institutions, the number of Native Americans who have earned a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree has increased almost 250% over the last 20 years.

The list of TCUs includes four in Minnesota, located on the Leech Lake, Red Lake, White Earth, and Fond du Lac reservations. Billy identified significant areas of achievement at TCUs in Minnesota and across the country including:

  • Place-based research that allows TCU students to learn while addressing local and regional problems ranging from diabetes treatment and prevention to aquifer management and alternative agriculture systems.
  • Degree programs that meet community needs, including nursing, teacher education, and indigenous language studies.
  • Creation of a comprehensive data reporting system (AIHEC AIMS) that ensures accountability to communities and funders, and provides a platform for continuous institutional improvement.

The best practices for student success outlined by Billy and other TCU panelists – proactive, “intrusive” academic advising; access to experiential learning and research opportunities with support from caring faculty; wraparound student support services; designation of a go-to staff or faculty person for each student – are a part of the comfortable, familial environment cultivated at TCUs to ease the transition to postsecondary academic and social life. This is especially crucial given the high percentage of tribal college students who are the first in their family to set foot on a college campus.

Overcoming the “High Risk” Label

Dr. Don Day, President of Leech Lake Tribal College, pointed out that these successes have been gained despite daunting challenges. Commonly identified barriers to postsecondary success include being a first-generation college student, coming from a low-income household, being part of a racial/ethnic minority group, receiving inadequate academic preparation in high school, and being a parent while attending college. Nearly all TCU students fall into one or more of the “high risk” categories, and it’s not uncommon for a student to fit all of them, yet these institutions and their students are finding a path to success.

The stories of growth and achievement despite long odds and inadequate funding caught the attention of many attendees including Sen. Patricia Torres-Ray, who called for a statewide conversation to learn more about how to better support the important role Minnesota’s tribal colleges play in our educational ecosystem. If Minnesota aims to take equity in education seriously, that conversation will be the starting point of a larger, deeper body of work that will benefit Native American and non-Native learners alike.

More material from the conference can be found on the Center for School Change website.


HBCUs Share Best Practices for Student Success

October 20, 2014

cscToday on the blog we welcome MCF member Kayla Yang-Best of Bush Foundation, who will share what she learned from a recent event about Tribal Colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Thank you, Kayla!

I had the great pleasure of attending a presentation and panel discussion on Historically Black Universities and Colleges this past week. The presentation was part a larger convening hosted by the Center for School Change on Learning and Teaching with Fire: Lessons from HBCUs and Tribal Colleges.” What an invigorating discussion – one well participated by community leaders and people from a wide range of organizations and sectors, including K12 and policymakers.

We heard many examples of students of color who are succeeding in postsecondary education. I’d like to focus on a couple examples from HBCUs that left an impression on me:

  • HBCUs retain and graduate low-income, academically under-prepared students at higher rates than non-HBCUs.
  • 40 percent of Black students with degrees in STEM graduated from an HBCU.

What accounts for this success? Dr. Brian Bridges of the United Negro College Fund, one of the speakers, attributed it to “a culture of experimentation” – where HBCUs are doing things differently and intentionally. He highlighted several practices, including:

  • High level of student/faculty engagement
  • Proactive advising
  • Promoting culture and a high level of self-identity and
  • Setting high expectations.

He concluded his talk by saying “these strategies can be adapted to all education levels and settings.”

At the core of these practices is connecting to culture, that in turn creates a high level of self-identity, belonging and relationship that the kids desperately need. A good illustration of that came from the audience, a young black man, who stood up and said that he has often been told his history starts with slavery. And that is a very negative foundation to identify with. In his words, “what about before slavery? There is more to me and who I am.”

I was really moved and energized coming out of that convening. Besides learning about the great results of the practices of HBCUs and Tribal Colleges, the convening presented a positive and asset-based narrative about kids of color and achievement, which we don’t hear enough about.

Thank you to the Center for School Change for the convening.


Color Outside the Lines with Youthprise

October 16, 2014

youthpriseIs your organization creating change around the issues of bullying, school support, and/or cultural restoration within the education system? Youthprise wants to know! It’s teaming up with Youth Diverse Union for its annual video contest.

The directions for nonprofits are simple:

  1. Create a video that shows how your organization creates their own change.
  2. Upload the video to a video sharing website like YouTube or Vimeo
  3. Email in the link to your video and photo/video release by November 4.

Videos should be original content and no longer than three minutes, with parental permission required for videos featuring children 13 years old or younger.

After the contest closes on November 4, Youthprise staff and a panel of youth will judge the video entries to determine the winner. That winner will be announced on November 13 at the YDU Block Party and on Youthprise social networks.

Prizes include cash for three grand prize winners and seven runners-up, plus the opportunity to be featured in YDU’s campaign for education reform.

Visit Youthprise’s website for all the details. Good luck!

 


Movin’ On Update

October 15, 2014

1_281536_2014-09-29-14-09-01-738Construction at MCF’s soon-to-be new home is coming along quickly! Things are going so well that we’ve bumped up our move-in date. You’ll find us in the Tractorworks building starting on December 1. (Remember, that’s in the North Loop at 800 Washington Avenue North.)

While the construction crews do their work, we are plotting out how things will look inside. One project includes scanning a bunch of old photos and soliciting new ones from members in order to create a mosaic of Minnesota’s philanthropic community that will greet you when you come in. We can’t wait to show you the finished product!

0_226863_2014-09-26-17-05-11-678We also have several capital project sponsorship opportunities available, that offer members the chance to help us make our space the best it can be. We’re very grateful that these are getting picked up quickly, with two still available:

  • Kitchen Break Room: A  place to start and continue conversations before and after programs or gather for a quick meeting or a casual meal.
  • Huddle Spaces (2 available): Two cozy conversational seating areas will provide the perfect locations for staff and members to easily work together or have a private talk.

If you’re interested in a sponsorship, contact Maria Salas.

Stay tuned for future updates and the grand unveiling!


New RFP Launches to Help Children Succeed

October 8, 2014

unitedwayMCF member Greater Twin Cities United Way has announced it is now accepting proposals in its Helping Children Succeed impact area.

United Way hopes to create a community of nonprofit partners making lasting impact for children and youth in the nine-county metro area by investing almost $13 million in Community Impact grants annually. This group of organizations will work together with community and thought leaders throughout the region to make sure every child in this community is prepared for success in school and in life.

The Request for Proposals is available now and due on Friday, November 7. Over the course of the following months, United Way staff and volunteer experts will review the proposals and conduct site visits to get a deep understanding of each program’s practices, successes, and potential for effective change. Funding decisions will be announced in March of next year with the expectation that each three year grant will begin on July 1, 2015.

Visit United Way’s website for the most up-to-date information about the RFP, including the FAQ.


Fast Forward: Chris Cardona on Accessible Philanthropy

October 7, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 12.09.07 PMThe newest episode of MCF’s Fast Forward podcast featuring big thinkers in philanthropy is up!

In this episode, Alfonso Wenker sits down with Chris Cardona of TCC Group. They kick off their discussion with the three levels of accessible philanthropy Chris has seen grantmakers employ:

  1. Consult stakeholders about their decisions
  2. Integrate these communities into the decision-making process
  3. Get community involvement in the initial design process
Chris Cardona

Chris Cardona

The two go on to discuss the best entry point into this culture of accessibility, getting buy-in from leadership, and why equity and inclusion are such important concepts in discussions about diversity.

Listen to the podcast now! Then subscribe on iTunes or plug the RSS feed into the program of your choice.

Grantmakers, if you like what you hear, be sure to join us October 31 for Today’s Realities | Tomorrow’s Opportunities, MCF’s annual conference. Chris Cardona is one of the several prominent local and national speakers you’ll interact with throughout the day!


Advance Early Childhood Nutrition with the Cargill Foundation

September 30, 2014

CargillLogoAre you involved with an organization that seeks to improve early childhood nutrition in the Twin Cities metro area?

The Cargill Foundation is accepting applications for one-time planning grants of up to $25,000 and one-time implementation grants of up to $100,000 for programs that advance early childhood nutrition through parent engagement, staff training initiatives, nutrition curricula, and increasing the availability of low-cost, nutritious food.

Last year, the Cargill Foundation awarded more than $1.5 million in the form of 17 grants to various organizations. The planning grants are an excellent way to explore new and innovative ideas in tackling the issue of early childhood nutrition. The implementation grants will go to support thoroughly planned programs that are ready to make the leap and impact local communities.

Proposals of interest should include one of the two priorities: developing or delivering hands-on nutrition education programs, and retaining or increasing participation among childcare providers in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). Check out the Cargill Foundation grant guidelines for full details.

Programs in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties are eligible. The application window is open from Oct. 1 to Nov. 14.


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