MN Comeback awards $568,500 toward inclusive teacher retention

A note from our Director of Talent, Cay Kimbrell 


Dear Community,

We put in place a Talent Team of volunteer experts to help unpack educator retention and pipeline barriers and solutions. Committee-led work is the longer path. But the end result: Richer, more comprehensive strategies.

On behalf of our Talent Team, I’m proud to announce grants totaling $568,500 to execute strategies to support the retention of great teachers and increase the diversity of our teacher workforce to better represent our students and families.

Our process to reach this decision included educator reviewers; I invite you to read more about this below. And our focus:  Strategies that help ensure school environments are places that successfully support and retain highly effective, diverse educators who are both experienced and new to the profession.


2017 Ecosystem Fund ‘Talent Initiative Awards’

Minnesota Education Equity Partnership: $150,000 

Many schools underscore that students need more teachers of color. As the largest financial backer of the district’s Minneapolis Residency Program, there’s more we can do to support and retain teachers of color. That includes a macro analysis of why many candidates don’t enter the profession and many leave it. MnEEP, in partnership with Collectivity, will audit teacher vacancies and shortages, as well as recruitment and retention barriers across all school sectors in Minneapolis. This intel is needed. We look forward to learning what they uncover so we can make our talent strategies even stronger as we focus on supporting proven and promising schools.

Teach For America-Twin Cities: $150,000   
The professional career continuum for educators is vast. When we scanned the availability of robust professional development across the continuum, we found an explicit need for aspiring school leaders. This grant – a collaboration between TFA, the School Leadership Project and New Leaders – responds directly to this need. What’s more, TFA’s cornerstone “Choose Twin Cities” event will leverage this new teacher leadership pathway to recruit more TFA alumni to apply for positions in local schools. This grant also supports TFA’s alumni of color affinity group to boost recruitment and retention of teachers of color in our region.

Foundation for Arts and Trauma: $76,000
The challenging circumstances students can face outside of school can be extreme. We hear schools searching for ways to better support students most in-need. The Foundation for Arts and Trauma is one such solution, advancing student learning through high-quality socio-emotional strategies in classrooms. Its program, ALIVE, or “Animating Learning by Integrating and Validating Experience,” arms educators with the tools to address the toxic impact of stress and trauma on student achievement. There’s more we can do to help teachers who are supporting students who experience trauma. Today, we’re grateful to help bring ALIVE to LoveWorks Academy.

Minneapolis Public Schools: $74,000
In fall 2016, 27 percent of all new teacher hires at MPS were people of color. (By way of background, only 4 percent of teachers in Minnesota are people of color.) MPS is committed to increasing this number and retaining effective educators to better match the diversity of its student population. This grant supports identifying levers to address the loss of teachers of color leaving the profession through focus groups, surveys, and data analysis. Then, MPS will implement an action plan next school year to boost retention rates.

Northeast College Prep: $68,500
While our state has struggled to implement a portfolio licensure process, Northeast College Prep will pioneer simplifying a pathway for teachers with community expert licenses to complete the portfolio process toward full licensure. Piloting this work has meaningful implications for schools across Minneapolis. The Star Tribune “Beating the odds” school will also create an in-school residency program to boost the recruitment and onboarding of teachers of color.

The Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in Minnesota: Up to $50,000
Teaching can be an isolating experience, especially for new educators and teachers of color. That’s why a strategy of the coalition’s – to convene educator racial and ethnic affinity groups, and provide a needed forum for teachers of diverse backgrounds to share their experiences – resonated with us. This grant supports the coalition’s growth to generate and develop strategies to close equity gaps and create culturally affirming spaces. We look forward to these learnings shaping our talent strategies.


In the spirit of co-designing
Our multi-round proposal review process included a seven-member group of teachers and teacher leaders from all school sectors; leveraging their feedback and recommendations, members of the Talent Team also helped ensure that we advance work that aligns with other MN Comeback Teams and Great MN Schools.

I hope this process – both extensive and thorough – underscores our drive to co-design and coordinate strategies that allow for shared learning across proven and promising schools.



Cay Kimbrell

Director of Talent

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