A school-centered, coalition-based approach.

We know that access to a rigorous and relevant school, 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, our goal is to triple the number of students who attend proven schools in the next five years.

Our timeline

  • The Minneapolis Foundation incubates the Education Transformation Initiative, the precursor to MN Comeback, and invites the broader ecosystem to roadmap K-12 systems changes
  • ETI undergoes qualitative interviews with 150 parents, educators, advocates and funders and completes systems mapping, identifying highest-impact levers to achieve educational equity
  • MN Comeback launches as a coalition, the Cabinet and Teams form to drive strategies
  • The coalition completes a city-wide study to identify, down to neighborhood areas, which families have access to academically performing schools and overlaid that with indicators of school readiness to pinpoint greatest need
  • Following two years of planning and coalition-building, MN Comeback pivots to implementation – growing our team of staff and investing in proven and promising schools, professional development for educators, and supporting the growth of parent agency

We bring alignment and coordination to a diverse coalition investing deeply in the conditions that support and sustain great schools’ success.


Increasing the number of extraordinary teachers and leaders working in the community of great schools

Community Engagement

Fostering deep parent and community engagement for rigorous and relevant schools


Advocating for supportive public policy that removes barriers to schools’ success


Promoting equitable access to high-quality school facilities

Our highest-impact levers for change

Every student wants to realize their full potential. Rigorous and relevant schools are critical to making that happen.

Our broad coalition of educators, advocates, parents and funders co-design K-12 systems change solutions so all students – initially those in Minneapolis – can access a great school. The following captures initial objectives and strategies by highest-impact lever in support of our goal to triple the number of students attending proven schools, from 3,479 to 10,000, by 2022.


Increase the number of proven schools serving students with unmet needs; school sectors improve, creating the conditions for more students to access schools that are both rigorous and relevant.

  1. Expansion of successful schools.
  2. Improvement (technical assistance, communities of practice).
  3. Transformation and restart.
  4. Teacher-led innovation.
  5. Support establishment of promising new schools.

In the next five years, Great MN Schools will invest in 30 schools with the potential of serving 12,000 students at full capacity.


Our partner organization Great MN Schools makes strategic investments in proven and promising schools, providing the expert guidance, funding and resources needed to create a community of great schools. They empower district, charter and independent schools with the resources they need to provide an exceptional education to more Minneapolis kids. GMS coordinates closely with all school sectors and funding is by invitation only. For more information, visit www.greatmnschools.org.


Schools led by effective leaders and teachers who reflect the diversity of our city’s students and families:

  • Increase the number of effective diverse teachers and leaders in our schools; and
  • Retain, develop and support current teachers and leaders in their work to dramatically increase student success.
  1. Increase pathways for more effective, diverse, teachers and leaders entering the profession.
  2. Create an aligned ecosystem to develop, support and sustain an effective and diverse educator workforce.
  3. Increase principals’ capacity to lead schools with strong instructional cultures.
  4. Strengthen school talent management practices to recruit, hire, develop and retain effective diverse teachers and leaders.


Following a RFP in fall 2016, the talent committee announced in February 2017 grants totaling $568,500 to execute strategies to support the retention of great teachers and increase the diversity of our teacher workforce.

In the 2017-18 school year, MN Comeback anticipates supplementing strategies in place with investments that respond to the articulated needs of proven and promising school leaders. For more information, contact Cay Kimbrell, MN Comeback’s director of talent.

  • Increase agency of families to advocate for their children and for systems change
  • Increase accountability in community for improving school quality
  • Increase enrollment in high performing schools
  • Increase transparency of school performance information, including through ‘Minneapolis School Finder’
  • Expand the number of community-based partners recruiting, training, and empowering parents as advocates
  • Build capacity in high-performing and high-potential schools to attract and retain more families
  • Build awareness among civic and grassroots leaders surrounding high-performing schools

By summer 2019, our community-based objectives and strategies will lead to:

  • At least 2,500 parents benefiting from advocacy training
  • Six citywide and four school-based campaigns designed and led by the community
  • Enrollment in low-performing schools decreasing by 500 students


Some of our partners helped produce the following video that we featured at our 2017 annual meeting highlighting our work in this space:


In 2016, the community engagement committee recommended initial grants to support closing the “information gap” for parents (see our April 2016 news release and November 2016 news release). The committee announced its first RFP for grant proposals in March 2017 with the second RFP wave currently under way (see July 2018 announcement). For more information contact Rashad Turner.

  1. Schools are able to recruit and retain diverse and high-quality educators through the talent pipeline.
  2. Schools are empowered to make important decisions around budget, staffing and curriculum.
  3. Schools and school systems are held accountable to meaningful academic and school climate standards, as well as governance.
  4. Proven and promising schools have access to money, facilities and other resources needed for success.
  5. Policy decisions value the voices of families, educators, and/or proven and promising schools.
  • Streamline out-of-state teacher licensure.
  • Provide sustainable revenue for alternative and nonconventional teacher preparation programs, improve the quality of traditional programs.
  • Safeguard conditions that support schools serving families most in-need.
  • Improve accountability for low-performing charters.
  • Make school accountability measures accessible and inclusive of families’ needs; empower parents with reliable and thorough information.
  • Attain equitable funding for schools across sectors.


The policy committee – comprised of educators, advocates and community leaders – helps inform objectives. MN Comeback announced initial policy investments in November 2016. Staff are currently reviewing proposals for future advocacy campaigns. For more information, contact our director of partnerships and external relations, Nicholas Banovetz.


Ensure proven and promising schools are able to operate in quality facilities that support their educational goals.

  • Provide technical support to schools that improve their capacity to plan, lease and/or own facilities.
  • Develop a connected network of community resources, including professional services, real estate owners and developers, public officials, and other key influencers.
  • Provide financing support for proven and promising schools that want to expand into their own facility.
  • Increase the supply of high-quality facilities sites.

By 2019, 11 proven and promising schools receive facilities technical support. Also by 2019, two schools receive facilities financing support.

For more information, contact Nicholas Banovetz.

Relevance – part of our vision, not a lever – translates to all students thriving in schools that meet their needs. While this is a nebulous and uncharted space, we are committed to elevating relevance. Here are our initial strategies:

  • Create a relevance framework, indicators and guiding principles toward shared language and to promote its application; integrate across levers/committees and grant-making.
  • Equip families with related tools and vocabulary so they can find the best-fit school.
  • Increase relevance in proven and promising schools.

Our relevance committee aims to advance schools that are highly relevant for students, teachers and parents. In 2017, it will release a draft framework and indicators for community feedback. Following a fall 2016 request for proposals, MN Comeback contracted The Culture Piece to develop this draft framework and indicators.

MN Comeback and the relevance committee will welcome the participation of more partners to help engage broad, diverse communities in dialoguing around and giving feedback to the draft framework and indicators. Contact Nicholas Banovetz to get involved.