Blandin Foundation, based in Grand Rapids, MN, has sponsored or supports many community engagement efforts, with a particular focus on early childhood:
Created in a response to the rural crisis of the 1980s, the six regional Minnesota Initiative Foundations (MIFs) work to strengthen the communities and economies of Greater Minnesota. To date, nearly $240 million has been invested in the MIFs by the McKnight Foundation, their original creator. Their biggest contribution to student success to date has been the Minnesota Early Childhood Initiative. The foundations worked together to facilitate strong, local community coalitions supporting and improving early childhood care and education.
Other activities taking place in the MIF regions include:
Minnesota Campus Compact (MCC) is a nonprofit organization that leverages the collective assets of dozens of higher-education campuses, most of them outside the Twin Cities metro area. MCC encourages its member campuses to mobilize a wide variety of human, material, and financial resources in reciprocal, ongoing partnerships with local communities and organizations. Goals outlined by MCC are: to promote the success of Minnesota’s increasingly diverse student population; advancing the kinds of community-engaged learning that employers value; and developing innovative collaborations that advance educational and economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, public health, and other social goods. A key part of the Campus Compact work is connecting college students to tutoring and youth mentoring in the communities where they are enrolled and encouraging civic engagement in other ways.
The Minnesota School Integration Council (MSIC) is a statewide organization committed to equality and excellence for all students, advocating for educational equity and integration-related issues. In 2010, MSIC convened a statewide task force to review school integration policies, including the use of state integration funds, and to address the achievement gap. The resulting report, “Every Child, Every Day,” concluded with recommendations in five key areas which address effective practices tied to results, partnerships and collaboration within communities, and distributing resources to meet outcomes.
The League of Minnesota Cities has been active in studying and offering guidance on the evolving demographic makeup of cities in Minnesota. They created a cultural diversity task force in 2003 which ultimately developed resources for city officials to help build inclusive communities that benefit from cultural diversity. The culminating report serves as an action guide for city leaders, with chapters on cultural competence; bridging language gaps; working against racism and prejudice; bringing city resources to bear on public safety, housing needs and economic development; and leading and fostering leadership in others.
The One Voice Minnesota network, a project of the national group The Advocates for Human Rights, promotes linkages and community partnerships around the concept of building welcoming communities. The network provides tools and resources for organizations and educators aimed at helping communities thrive as they diversify.
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