What would a prosperous future for all Minnesotans look like? And what will it take to get there? Presenters and participants at yesterday’s Minnesota Compass annual meeting, Positioning Ourselves for Prosperity, asked these tough questions. Steven Rosenstone, chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, kicked off the discussion by stating, “Human capital is the key to a prosperous future for all Minnesotans.” But our state is not currently effectively developing this critical resource.
Rosenstone noted that we have a significant and growing workforce shortage:
- There is a skills gap: Unemployment remains high, while many businesses struggle to find workers who have the technical skills they need.
- Workforce shortages will increase in the future, as Minnesota’s population ages.
- Currently, our education system does not successfully meet workforce needs.
One critical key to addressing this workforce shortage is tackling Minnesota’s racial achievement gap.
- Minnesota is becoming more diverse. In the Twin Cities, the population of color has tripled in the past twenty years. One in five residents is now a person of color. The same is true for one in four of our children – our state’s future workforce, parents, and leaders.
- The gap between the percentage of non-Hispanic white students and students of color who are proficient in reading by the end of 3rd grade is about 25 points.
- The gap between the percentage of non-Hispanic white students and students of color who are proficient in math by the end of 11th grade score is about 30 points.
- And the gap between the percentage of non-Hispanic white students and students of color who graduate from high school on time score is about 30 points. Just over half of students of color graduate on time.
Participants discussed ways we use these hard facts to galvanize the government, nonprofit, and grantmaking communities – and ultimately all Minnesotans – to take meaningful action to close these gaps. The work will be difficult. But Karen Kelley-Ariwoola, vice president of community philanthropy for The Minneapolis Foundation and a past board chair for MCF, called the room to action. In addressing these achievement gaps, we must all be:
- Strategic: Invest in high return upstream strategies.
- Intentional: Ask, will this close the gap?
- Inclusive: Listen to our community stakeholders.
-Anne Bauers, MCF research manager