Businesses, nonprofits form group to address achievement gap

A number of prominent Twin Cities businesses and nonprofits have created a new organization aimed at reducing the achievement gap among students.

Participants include companies such as Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT), 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM), General Mills Inc. and HealthPartners as well as nonprofits such as the Greater Twin Cities United Way, the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, and the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership, according to a story in the Star Tribune.

The group, called the Generation Next Partnership, has already hired an executive director, Michael Goar, and will introduce him at a kick-off event between 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center. The organization’s co-chairs are Kim Nelson, senior vice president of external relations at General Mills (NYSE: GIS) and president of the General Mills Foundation, and Eric Kaler, president of the University of Minnesota.

Generation Next will focus on improving graduation rates among minority and low-income students in Minneapolis and St. Paul. According to the Star Tribune, “Minnesota ranked last in four-year graduation rates for Latino and American Indian students, second-to-last for black students, and near the bottom for low-income students.”

According to a news release, Generation Next’s goals will be to ensure that every student in Minneapolis and St. Paul has an equal opportunity to:

  • Enter kindergarten ready to succeed,
  • Achieve third-grade reading benchmarks,
  • Achieve eighth-grade math benchmarks,
  • Graduate on time from high school, and
  • Obtain a post-secondary degree or certificate within six years of graduation

The United Way will house the Generation Next group and provide start-up support, the news release said. The Wilder Foundation and Minnesota Minority Education Partnership will provide additional assistance.

Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, will announce that the Generation Next Partnership will get a $2 million federal grant over two years from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) that will be matched by local organizations.

SIF 2015