Thank you for your engagement in our work. Thank you for your belief in the promise of education.
Our world is changing as a result of the global pandemic and increasing awareness of existing structural racism and resulting disparities. As we navigate what this means for each of us, with our unique paths, histories, and different levels of positional power and privilege, we stay centered on the schools and families we serve.
We believe in great schools and the inspiring leadership of the school leaders we support. We believe in providing families with information that empowers them to advocate for their children. The work of Great MN Schools matters today, more than ever, and we're making progress toward ensuring more children have access to a great school.
We're proud to work alongside our team, alongside the leadership teams of our portfolio schools, alongside our community partners, and each of you. Together we are changing what is possible for students in Minneapolis—one school at a time, one family at a time—toward a larger goal of changing the systems, policies, practices, and beliefs that stand in the way of educational equity.
This year we surrounded each of the portfolio schools with a variety of supports—from a COVID-19 technology fund to tailored counsel on reopening plans—to ensure students were provided with high-quality learning experiences, despite a global pandemic. And building off of Minneapolis School Finder, we created a set of online resources to support parents and a ‘How to pick a school’ guide so that families can better find a best-fit school for their child.
Great schools defy dominant beliefs and expectations of what’s obtainable for children from low-income backgrounds and children of color. Large scale change can only come once we’ve addressed the belief gap and shown what’s possible. This is a powerful motivator as we focus on our strategy to support and increase the number of schools that work.
At Great MN Schools, we believe that great schools are the cornerstone of a just and thriving community. By focusing on school quality, we're working to create educational equity and to change the everyday and lived experiences of students in Minneapolis.
In partnering with promising schools—guiding their improvement and growth, strengthening students’ learning experiences, and advancing educational outcomes—we are working toward a goal of 5,000 students attending high-performing schools in the portfolio by 2025. Complementing that is our support for additional schools on their path to becoming high performing—and serving another 5,000 students.
We remain committed to our city and hopeful about the future and the impact of our work. We thank you for your commitment, too, and support as we make progress together.
We’re building a portfolio of high-performing schools that demonstrate what’s possible.
Our school-centered approach starts with identifying schools with strong leaders and culture, and helping them diagnose their strengths and gaps. We facilitate the development of a strategic roadmap, and surround schools with support to ensure the implementation of strategic interventions and evidence-based solutions.
And we build community partnerships to support underserved families’ ability to navigate K-12 systems and advocate for their children through new tools and resources. This work will lead to families choosing better options for their child, and stronger family-school relationships and stronger schools.
And as we collectively work to transform the experiences for those underserved and historically marginalized, we’re committed to education as crucial path toward equity and racial justice.
Toward more schools that work, growing our portfolio of schools & strengthening community partnerships.
Our portfolio of schools is on the path toward becoming high performing
Effectiveness of Great MN Schools team
Great MN Schools' portfolio schools had a noteworthy 11% increase on TNTP's Instructional Culture Index (6.1 to 6.8—against a national school average of 7.6). The index is an independently validated predictor of student performance and effective teacher retention, and is reflective of progress toward schools' success plans.
School leaders accessed best-in-class capacity building & strategic interventions
Four school networks funded
for year two of implementation (following completion of their improvement planning process).
We completed “focused reviews” with Bellwether Education Partners to inform due diligence, more deeply understand progress made and support schools in continual improvement as they planned for year two of implementation.
Performance of Great MN Schools portfolio schools during COVID-19
Due to COVID-19, Minnesota schools did not administer spring Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs).
Teachers validate instructional culture is strengthening at our schools
Prodeo Middle School Principal
19 hires for portfolio schools resulting from our Teach MSP teacher candidate sourcing initiative with TNTP
Co-developed and published the ‘Talent Playbook’
We shared open-source tools and resources of key talent-ready lessons and practices with schools across the city, particularly single-site schools that don't have dedicated talent leads and those serving greater than 40% of students living in poverty.
Thirty-plus schools gained access through webinar trainings and/or
one-on-one support. Participants reviewed existing talent practices and set clear goals for their next hiring season. See Talent Playbook.
Partnerships toward more schools that work
Impact of COVID-19: Distance learning reflections
Positioned for greatness
Raising the bar at Hope Academy through Good-to-Great
Ensuring more kids have access to schools that work is a collaborative effort
Covid-19: Ensuring access
to critical resources & learning
Strengthening governance through cohort pilot
The board leadership training has connected me with other charter school leaders to share resources about successes and opportunities. It enabled me to reflect on the challenges our school faces and bring back ideas on how to approach them.
Chonburi Lee, Board Treasurer,
New Millennium Academy
Cities that have large numbers of high-performing schools share common solutions.
Building support for solutions that advance more great schools
Introducing school performance frameworks to our city
Board of Directors
Alberto Monserrate, Chair – NewPublica
Stan Alleyne, Vice chair – Vitals Aware Services
Tad Piper, Treasurer – Piper Sandler (retired); Piper Family Fund
Alvin Abraham – To Educate All Children
Rob Albright – Albright Family Foundation; Alternative Strategy Advisers
Rosita Balch – Hennepin County
Becky Erdahl – Carolyn Foundation
Al Fan – MN Comeback (previous Executive Director)
Ethan Gray – The City Fund
Aimee Guidera – Guidera Strategies
Bernadeia Johnson – Mankato State University
Pat Ryan – Ryan Companies
Phil Soran – Flipgrid (retired); Compellent Technologies (retired); Xiotech (retired); Soran Foundation
Sandy Vargas – The Minneapolis Foundation (retired)
Ben Whitney, Chair (pre-merger); Investment Committee Chair – St. Catherine University School of Business
Former MN Comeback and Great MN Schools board members
Beth Finch – CharterSource
David Nelson – Carlson Family Foundation
Mithra Irani Ramaley – City Year
Carolyn Smallwood, MN Comeback chair – Way to Grow
Chris Smith – Kipsu
Jen Stern – CEO
Cay Adams Kimbrell – Director of Talent
Osman Ahmed – Director of Community Partnerships
Nouf Al-Masrafi – Operations Coordinator
Nicholas Banovetz – Chief of Staff
Morgan Brown – Director
Karn Engelsgjerd – Director of Development
Sheilah Kavaney – Director
Rosie Lais – Senior Manager of Projects & Analytics
Melissa Long – Director
Kristen McKittick – Director of Development
Funder Advisory Council
Jane McDonald Black
FISCAL YEAR 2020 SPENDING
We're grateful to the many individuals, families, foundations, and corporations for their help moving us toward a more just, thriving, and equitable Minneapolis.*
Albright Family Foundation
Susan and Richard Anderson Family Fund
The Julie and Doug Baker, Jr. Foundation
John and Joan Brooks Fund
Carlson Family Foundation
The Carolyn Foundation
David Winton Bell Foundation
Mary Dolan | The Longview Foundation
Douglass Brandenborg Family Foundation
The Dryer Family Foundation
Beth and David Finch
Alysa and Nicholas Gardino
General Mills Foundation
The Graves Foundation
Aimee and Bill Guidera
I.A. O'Shaughnessy Foundation
The Joyce Foundation
Dave and Kathleen MacLennan
Bob and Polly McCrea
Lucy Mitchell | The Longview Foundation
David and Leni Moore
John W. Mooty Foundation Trust
The Mortenson Family Foundation
James A. Payne
The Tad and Cindy Piper Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation
Prospect Creek Foundation
Paul and Mary Reyelts
Ann and Pat Ryan
Sauer Family Foundation
Mike and Pam Sime
Chris and Nell Smith | The Longview Foundation
Ed and Valerie Spencer
Turner Family Foundation
Ben and Mary Whitney Fund
Eleanor and Fred Winston | The Longview Foundation
Wollan and Fan Family Fund
*The generous investors listed have made investments greater than $1,000 from 7/1/19 through 6/30/20
Now more than ever...
We should rally behind the critical, shared work of more great schools to rewrite the future for students, families, and our entire community.
Great schools matter—they change lives.
Investment Committee Chair