As Minnesota’s high school graduation rate hits a 10-year high of 79 percent, the Minnesota Alliance With Youth celebrates the collective work that undergirds this increase, a multi-sector approach the organization has fostered since its inception in 1997.
“By working together, we can unleash the power of collaboration that ensures that all Minnesota youth graduate from high school prepared for successful futures,” says Sarah Dixon, Alliance President & CEO.
Minnesota is one of the first states to be part of the GradNation initiative, led by America’s Promise Alliance. With a goal of 90 percent “on-time” graduation from high school by 2020, the state-level version of GradNation — GradMinnesota — is led by the Alliance, Department of Education, and governor’s office. These partners work to ensure that a common agenda, shared measures, mutually reinforcing activities, and ongoing communication make bridging the opportunity and achievement gaps attainable within this decade.
What does this mean in practice? Three key strategies are emerging:
- Integrate support systems for youth identified as at risk of falling behind.
- Facilitate partnerships between caring adult mentors and young people.
- Coordinate communication of these efforts across communities and statewide.
Additional support for these strategies emerged through a series of youth summits the Alliance convened in every congressional district in the state. Minnesota Youth Council members — 72 youth and adult partners working to ensure that young people have a voice in policymaking — sponsored these gatherings to assess where gaps exist in services.
“Some common themes emerged, including the importance of caring adults in the lives of youth, and the need for accessible resources to support young people,” says the Alliance’s Vice President of Mission Advancement, Kori Redepennning.
These strategies also complement the foundational work of the Alliance, building the “Five Promises” that research shows are key to lifelong academic, social, and civic success: caring adults, safe places, healthy start, effective education, and opportunities to help others.
Each area of the Alliance’s work — whether facilitating collective action through GradMinnesota, affecting policy through the Minnesota Youth Council, or supporting youth at risk of falling behind through the Promise Fellow network — helps to impact the larger goal of ending the opportunity and achievement gaps by 2020, if not sooner.
As Cammy Lehr, Project Coordinator of GradMinnesota at the Department of Education, says: “We believe that GradMinnesota will continue to fuel the momentum to achieve Minnesota’s graduation goal by building awareness and highlighting positive efforts to effectively engage our children and youth in school and learning.” ■
Return to Spring Promise Press 2014.