By Chanda Smith Baker, president and CEO, Pillsbury United Communities
Generation Next is a civic movement to extinguish the daunting achievement gap in the Twin Cities. Pillsbury United Communities is excited to be a part of the initiative and honored to be a partner in creating more opportunity for youth. The heart of our mission is connecting and listening to people about what matters most. Pillsbury United Communities is a nonprofit organization working to create choice, change and connection for people from all walks of life. Three of our six core focus areas intersect with the goals of Generation Next to engage the community, innovate for early childhood development and develop youth.
Our partnership is reinvigorating our work by bringing the community to the table with the same purpose and a shared understanding of the urgent need to create better outcomes for our children. We have learned from one another, and collectively, we have garnered a better understanding of the issues around the achievement gap. Pillsbury United Communities has led the facilitation of several engagement meetings, giving us another opportunity to learn from our constituents. Working together, we can change the lives of thousands of children in the Twin Cities.
As president and CEO of Pillsbury United Communities, I lead the work with the philosophy that community engagement is a continuum of relationship building. It does not start at engagement but rather builds to engagement. You have to create conditions, based on authenticity and respect, that allow community members to offer their true voice.
Pillsbury United Communities understands that you must respect community diversity in order to authentically engage the community. We understand no external entity can act on behalf of the community. We have to engage community members in the work in order to seek the change we envision.
The community is our biggest asset in addressing the achievement gap. If we provide the platform for parents, students and teachers to be heard, we can then direct that energy into collective action that creates sustainable change for our communities. Join us in the work to close the achievement gap and create opportunity for every student.
Learn more about Pillsbury United Community here and at our National Night Out event in North Minneapolis on Tuesday, August 6, 6:00-8:00 p.m. in two locations: 1210 37th Avenue N, Minneapolis, MN 55412 and 1701 Oak Park Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55411.