Aug 23 2016 Minnesota education initiatives work together to secure $6 million in government funding
The Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood (SPPN) was working to transform education and end multi-generational poverty within the Twin Cities; meanwhile, three StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network partnerships outside of Greater Minneapolis were focused on mobilizing community resources to support students from birth to career. Along with the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), a collaboration of 43 local non-profits and schools partnering with families to end generational poverty in North Minneapolis, these organizations decided to form a coalition, working together to secure $6 million in funding from a special session of the Minnesota legislature to be received over the next two years.
The coalition, now called the Education Partnerships Coalition, will carry forward local intersector approaches already in action. Together the organizations already serve more than 43,000 youth. The multi-sector model of collective impact, StriveTogether’s approach, integrates many diverse local stakeholders. “It’s the total mobilization of the community around a holistic approach to achieving student success. … Not just schools, teachers, and non-profits but everybody: business, philanthropies, parents are involved,” said Dane Smith, President of Growth & Justice, a Minnesota policy advocacy group focused on reducing inequality and building a more inclusive prosperity.
“It’s the total mobilization of the community around a holistic approach to achieving student success. … Not just schools, teachers, and non-profits but everybody: business, philanthropies, parents are involved.”
Sharing data is integral to each partnering organization’s impact and the success of the coalition. For example, the NAZ Connect data system allows partners to coordinate services for NAZ-enrolled family and students. On a larger scale, coalition partners will also compare data, a more complex practice since each initiative involves its own cross-sector partners with differing practices and rules related to data sharing. This speaks to Commit to Information Sharing, a tactic from our Toolkit. Sharing relevant data among partners provides stakeholders with a more comprehensive understanding of the issue they seek to jointly address. This practice also builds trust among partners.
In the case of FosterEd, an initiative aiming to improve the academic outcomes of foster children by ensuring they are supported by educational champions and strengthened by education teams, a similar data-driven tactic is used. Working an Internet marketing service, FosterEd developed an educational case management system allowing education liaisons, social workers, and court staff to track the educational progress of each child. The system also allowed the program to be effectively managed, helping FosterEd to make programmatic decisions, such as adding more liaisons or increasing trainings on common challenges. It also allowed FosterEd staff to determine if a change in education policy would provide a solution for a certain educational need. Sharing information is essential to ensuring the educational progress of each child – a foster child’s “case” is only “closed” when all of their educational goals have been monitored for a period of time and the issue at hand is resolved. This requires open communication between all participants.
Cross-sector efforts also played a role in gaining state funding for these local cross-sector initiatives. Partnering non-profit organizations reached out at the grassroots level to local legislators and the community, and a Minneapolis philanthropist connected with the ‘grasstops’ — political and business leaders, convincing them of the value of the partnership project, reports StriveTogether.