Kim Nelson, senior VP of external relations and president of the General Mills Foundation, spoke first. Nelson co-chairs the Twin Cities Strive board with University of Minnesota president Dr. Eric Kaler.
The Twin Cities Strive initiative grew out of work being done concurrently by the African American Leadership Forum (AALF) and the University of Minnesota to determine how we might address our achievement gap, which is among the largest in the nation.
Initial findings of the working group include:
- In Minneapolis/St. Paul, there are more than 500 organizations working to close the achievement gap.
- We are program rich and systems poor — organizations don’t share goals, measures or data.
Strive is a long-term initiative focused on practice, not programs. It uses data to determine best practices that can be brought to scale.
Twin Cities Strive officially launches on Thursday, November 29, but here’s what is already in place:
- Board to set priorities and evaluate performance with representatives from the Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools, business, higher education, community-based organizations and philanthropy
- Greater Twin Cities United Way acting as the host organization and fiscal sponsor
- Strategic partners: Wilder Research (data and evaluation) and Minnesota Minority Education Partnership (community engagement)
- An executive director has been hired and will start in mid-October
Twin Cities Strive will be built around these goals and related data-collection points:
- Kindergarten readiness
- 3rd grade reading proficiency
- 8th grade math proficiency
- H.S. graduation
- Post-secondary credential
Frank Forsberg, senior VP, systems change and innovation, Greater Twin Cities United Way, and member of the Twin Cities Strive board, then addressed how he believes federal funding received in Minnesota will help fund the Strive goals.
- Race to the Top, $45 million to early childhood education: Focus on systems and serves as a state-wide driver of kindergarten readiness and 3rd-grade reading proficiency.
- Investing in Innovation (i3), $15 million to the U of MN for early learning and literacy initiatives, addressing kindergarten readiness.
- Promise Neighborhood: $28 million for the Northside Achievement Zone in North Minneapolis, addressing all Strive goals.
- Social Innovation Fund: $5 million to Twin Cities Strive in partnership with United Way, addressing all Strive goals. (RFPs for these grants coming soon.)
According to Forsberg, the focus of federal funding is on quality and access with an emphasis on young children.
– Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate