A school-centered approach.
We know that access to high-quality schools, not a child’s background or ability, is the most important factor in student achievement. So we’re uniting stakeholders across our community to work in tight coordination on the strategies that are proven to help schools grow and improve: increasing the number of extraordinary teachers and leaders, fostering deep parent engagement, advocating for supportive public policy, and helping schools access quality facilities.
This collective approach brings much-needed alignment to our goals and investments, and engages school communities as authentic partners in real change. Together with Great MN Schools, we’re increasing access to great schools and closing the opportunity gap for 30,000 Minneapolis kids.
Unearthing the highest-impact levers for change.
Our extensive systems mapping spanned one year and included interviews with 150 education and philanthropy leaders, teachers, parents and students. Ultimately, it identified highest-impact “levers” to increase the number of high-performing schools: talent pipeline development, community engagement, policy and facilities. We support work aligned with these levers.
Honing our efforts – every school can play a part.
We have mapped the areas of our city with greatest need for focus. These maps are supplemented with data such as commute rates and school-readiness measurements. The study is publicly available to help inform work across our community.
Resourcing systems change
We’ve created two grant vehicles and announced our first round of grants on April 6, 2016: ‘MN Comeback announces grants totaling more than $2.7 million’
1. Our Ecosystem Fund ensures great schools have the conditions to sustain their work.
It also ensures that our philanthropic community is poised to respond strategically and with agility to ecosystem needs. As a pooled funding structure, it allows funders to resource time-sensitive opportunities and addresses the need for coordinated efforts to drive outcomes: Greater investment effectiveness, leverage of additional local and national resources, and frequent assessment and recalibration of our work.
Grounded in our adaptive systems mapping, the fund focuses on initiatives that support and grow our education ecosystem: public policy, talent development, parent engagement and facilities access.
As the vehicle that resources initiatives that our Cabinet and Teams identify and recommend, our Ecosystem Fund is critical to our mission: The Cabinet coordinates projects and recommendations for investment; the Teams identify the actual strategies and see that work through with our staff.
2. The Great MN Schools fund supports the actual creation or turn around of rigorous, relevant seats.
Focusing on increasing access to high-performing schools for students of color and low-income students, the fund provides grants and technical assistance to support schools across all sectors and growth stages: new, building capacity, and proven success. This model drives systemic change by coordinating resources in a citywide effort.
Strong student performance around the country shows that a child’s ability to learn doesn’t drive achievement gaps. Rather, it’s the limited access that low-income students have to high-performing schools. According to Minnesota’s accountability system, only 17 percent of low-income students attended high-performing public schools in Minneapolis in 2014-15.
The fund includes: 1) Comprehensive high-performing school growth plans across school sectors; 2) A school grant program to allocate financial and technical resources to high-priority schools; and 3) A community of high-performing and high-potential schools and school leaders who can learn and share effective practices with each other.