A Back to School To-Do List for All of Us

It’s that time of year again, when children get excited to show off new school bags, high schoolers return to the routine of homework, and college students preview new textbooks. The excitement in the air is palpable to us all. So too, should the feeling of responsibility to future generations of our community grab us. Whether or not you sent a child off to school this morning or are busy buying textbooks of your own, we all have a responsibility to ensure the success of our young people.

Right now, we are raising our most valuable generation. Students in Minneapolis schools today speak 80 languages and come from 79 different countries. They cross cultural barriers every day and if we prepare them properly, students in Minneapolis could be our state’s greatest asset to compete in a global economy.

That’s why we created The Minneapolis Promise: a package of three privately funded initiatives that have put career centers in every public high school, funded the STEP UP summer jobs program, and provided free college tuition:

  • Since the College & Career Centers opened in 2006, they’ve helped 140,000 students and 9,500 have worked with a counselor to develop their Life Plan.
  • Since being launched in 2004, STEP UP and other job programshave hired 7,673 young people. More than 80% of those were kids of color and 70% went on to college. This summer 2,300 young people were working in Minneapolis because of city programs, including 500 whose jobs were funded by the federal stimulus.
  • Since the Power of You was launched in 2006, it has helped 640 Minneapolis students enroll at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. The U of MN Founder’s Program, also launched in 2006, has given college aid to 353 Minneapolis students. That’s nearly 1,000 students with free college tuition!

Taken together, the Minneapolis Promise is changing the lives of an entire generation of our students. But serious challenges lie ahead. The career centers, led by Achieve Minneapolis, depend on private donations and volunteers. STEP UP depends on employers who face tough economic realities. MCTC and the U of MN college tuition programs are vulnerable as these institutions face serious budget challenges of their own and rely heavily on private donors to fund financial assistance for students.

This is a critical time and we can’t lose momentum on efforts that not only help young people succeed, but give our entire community a head start on every other region in the competition for the global market. We need an educated, culturally sophisticated workforce to keep Minneapolis on the cutting edge. That’s why I will continue my advocacy and fundraising for the Minneapolis Promise, and I hope you will too.

Everyone has a role to play because we need everyone to prepare the next generation for their future. By working together, I’m confident that we can continue the success of the Minneapolis Promise. Thanks for being part of the solution; now let’s get to work.

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