And now, for some good news about education in Minnesota. December has been a good month for the state, with word that three separate streams of federal dollars are flowing into the state to improve our education system. A $28 million Promise Neighborhood implementation grant goes to the Northside Achievement Zone, a $15 million "Investing in Innovation or i3 grant goes to the University of Minnesota to fund research in programs affecting five cities nationwide including St. Paul Public Schools, and a $45 million Race to the Top (RTTT) grant will affect the entire state’s early education system with particular focus on four key areas in Minneapolis, St. Paul, the White Earth Reservation and Itasca County.
Speaking of the three grants, Sondra Samuels, Executive Director of the Northside Achievement Zone, said: “This is a real opportunity for these three streams of support to be woven together.” All three entities will be getting together to make sure that efforts are coordinated, Samuels said. “The excitement is palpable. Finally we have some resources in this state that really has one of the most egregious achievement gaps in the country. Let’s get to work.”
In the next couple of weeks, NAZ will be working with their partners and the state to scale up the organization's work. Right now, NAZ works with 150 families. Samuels says in the next five years they hope to increase that to 1200 families and put more than 3,000 children on the path to college.
Race To The Top supports early education
The RTTT grant has several components to it, and according to Laurie Davis, who worked as an independent contractor for the State of Minnesota on writing the grant. Davis says that Minnesota was awarded the grant in part because of the “years and years” of work improving early education that led to a place where Minnesota was eligible.