By Sara Dziuk, July guest blogger
Each year in Minnesota we invest millions of dollars in some 500 initiatives to close the achievement gap, yet the outlook for underprivileged kids remains one of the worst in the country and the gap continues to grow.
Nationally only 8% of low-income students earn a college degree by age 24 compared to 82% of their higher income peers. I’m proud to say College Possible students are graduating from college at the same rate as students from all income levels nationally, effectively closing the achievement gap for our students. We now have an opportunity to grow our model through a unique partnership with Generation Next and Greater Twin Cities United Way.
Generation Next was launched in 2012 to dramatically accelerate academic achievement for all children. Generation Next is based on the Strive Partnership framework, uniting the community around shared goals to support the success of every child from cradle to career. Together, we’re working to close the achievement gap in the Twin Cities.
Generation Next identifies organizations achieving the strongest results for Minneapolis and St. Paul and maximizes their impact by leveraging resources to scale and replicate best practices. After a rigorous selection process, I’m thrilled that College Possible is one of six premier partners selected to become a Social Innovation Fund subgrantee. The Social Innovation Fund mobilizes public and private resources to find and grow community-based nonprofits with evidence of strong results.
In our meetings with the other partners I couldn’t be happier to see the familiar faces of former College Possible AmeriCorps members. It’s inspiring to see our vision come full circle as our Corps members go on to careers at other organizations focused on education equality, continuing our mission work even after they complete their service with us.
We also saw the potential for our work to come full circle as we met with leaders from other Generation Next partner organizations. Although we focus on very different things, Way to Grow’s success ensuring pre-natal health through kindergarten readiness contributes to College Possible’s success as these kids go on to thrive in college and beyond with a network of support along the way.
In addition to these investments in proven solutions, Generation Next launched action networks focused on early literacy and college and career readiness this spring. This gives me an opportunity to be at the table with our partners across sectors sharing best practices. There is so much energy in the room at these meetings and we’re seeing true, effective collaboration happening.
With facilitation and coaching on how to use data to support a “cycle of inquiry,” more than 100 individuals and organizations are establishing action plans that identify effective strategies and break down silos. Action networks focused on 3rd grade reading, 8th grade math and high school graduation will launch in 2014.
It’s early in the process but we’ve already seen that we can make great strides by working together. The success of our students depends on a broad community partnership with youth practitioners, parents, students, teachers, government, foundations and business. You can join in giving every student an opportunity to succeed by becoming a partner. Soon even more students in the Twin Cities will have college in their future.