Minnesota Alliance with Youth

GradNation Communities in Minnesota

GradMinnesota LogoCommunities, in partnership with schools, government agencies, nonprofits, and other entities are critical in developing local solutions to the national dropout crisis.  GradNation Communities in Minnesota are just this- groups of people in a community working together to improve high school graduation rates. The GradMinnesota Initiative provides support and resources to these communities that are committed to finding comprehensive solutions to close the achievement and opportunity gaps and raise high school graduation rates so that young people are prepared for postsecondary success. This year, Minnesota Alliance With Youth is proud to host 2 AmeriCorps VISTAs serving with GradMinnesota to help build capacity and provide supports that are responsive to community needs.

As GradNation Communities in Minnesota work to create networks of partners, examine data, identify their specific needs and implement plans to increase graduation rates, the GradMinnesota initiative and VISTA members offers communities:

  • Invitations to professional development opportunities
  • Opportunities to network with other communities
  • Connections to partners, experts, and other resources
  • Access to research-based tools and knowledge
  • Guidance for driving awareness, building public will, and increasing youth voice
  • Access to communication, messaging, and community engagement tools
  • Guidance on how to sustain and fund community efforts

Joining the GradMinnesota initiative as a GradNation Community means connecting with a network of support and resources to tackle the goals of increasing student achievement and graduation rates.   For more information contact Cammy Lehr at clehr@mnyouth.net.

Click here for more information on becoming a GradNation Community!

Meet Daniel and Emily, the GradMinnesota AmeriCorps VISTAs! 

AmeriCorps VISTA Service: Meaningful Work, Enriching Experience by Daniel Martinson

“As a GradMinnesota VISTA with the GradMinnesota Initiative under the Minnesota Alliance With Youth, my role sounds simple: support community initiatives dedicated to raising high school graduation rates and preparing young people for success in postsecondary opportunity, work, civic engagement, and life.  Admittedly, it has taken me a while to understand exactly how a recent college graduate like me is capable of and qualified to do just this.”  Read more of Daniel’s reflections on his VISTA service on the GradNation blog! 

DULUTH: Ensuring Student and Community Well-Being

Near the end of 2015, the Minnesota Department of Education awarded a total of $250,000 to four school districts looking to implement full-service community school models.  Lincoln Park Middle School in Duluth was one of these schools.  At Lincoln Park Middle School, 65.2% of enrolled students receive free or reduced price lunch in comparison to 43.9% district-wide and 25.3% at the other Duluth middle school.  In the Duluth Public School District, students who receive free or reduced price lunch graduate from high school at a rate of 56.4% as compared to 77.5% for all students.  What’s more, large gaps in student achievement exist related to race, ability, and housing status.  With the full-service community school model in full swing at Lincoln Park Middle School, multiple community partnerships thrive and are working to provide equitable opportunity for all students and to remove barriers to the full potential of young people. Read More…

St. PAul: Reengaging Young People into School: Project Return

Grown out of the St. Paul GradNation Community work and implemented in September 2014, Project Return is a joint project between St. Paul Public Schools and the Ramsey County Attorney’s office.  The emphasis of this initiative is to identify and locate students who have missed 15 consecutive days of school and have subsequently been dropped from enrollment at the respective school.  The Project Return Coordinator aims to re-enroll these students into appropriate educational environments and continues to re-engage them and ensure sustained support is provided.  Last year, 91 eligible students were reengaged and 41 were re-enrolled into school. Read More…

ST. Paul Focuses on Student Re-Engagement

St. Paul’s GradNation Community is spearheaded by stakeholders from a wide variety of organizations, including governmental bodies, schools, and nonprofit organizations.  The group is developing strategies for student re-engagement into school through mapping of community resources and policy, and increasing public outreach and awareness.  Their work, centering on school district data-sharing and proactive re-engagement efforts, rallies community-wide action to ensure that resources are accessible to students in order to bring them back to school and to keep them on track towards post-secondary success. Read more about Saint Paul’s Project Return and Attendance Matters campaigns. 

Minneapolis Sets Sights on Raising Grad Rates for ELL Students

The Minneapolis public school district is working on several fronts to make sure English-language learners (ELLs) feel that graduation and college are part of their futures.  Roughly a fourth of the Minneapolis district’s students are ELLs. Most of these 9,000 students speak Spanish, followed by Somali and Hmong, a language spoken by an ethnic group from parts of China and Southeast Asia. Read more about Minneapolis’ work on the America’s Promise Alliance blog.


Youth, educators, family and community members gathered at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota on December 9th, 2016, for the Northfield Graduation Summit.  Selected by America’s Promise Alliance out of 100 nationwide communities to host a graduation summit, Northfield’s event brought together around 200 stakeholders to spend the day learning about best practices and local efforts underway to close the graduation gap and to create pathways for post-high school opportunities. Read more… 


Activities & Events

Supporting Research


GradMinnesota Resource Library