Dear Minneapolis,

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.

In community,


Jennifer Stern

CEO, Great MN Schools


Alberto Monserrate

Board Chair, Great MN
Schools; CEO and Co-founder, NewPublica

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.

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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

(school survey, 4.75 rating out of a 1-5 scale)


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.

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The Great MN Schools team understands how schools work, and they're focused on helping our school improve.

Helen Fisk, Director, Global Academy

School leaders accessed best-in-class capacity building & strategic interventions


school leaders received executive coaching


school leaders, supporting more than 180 teachers, accessed ANET


principals and teacher leaders accessed Relay’s Summer Institute


instructional leaders went through the Relay Cohort


schools participated in the Talent-Ready Cohort with EdFuel


schools and 509 teachers participated in TNTP’s Insight Survey


charter school boards underwent board training with CharterSource board development


board members
from 8 schools were part of the Board Governance Cohort with Education Board Partners

Good-to-Great progress

Completed the strategic improvement planning pro­cess and funded for implementation:

  • Hennepin Schools
  • Hiawatha Academies
  • Hope Academy


New City School completed the strategic improvement planning process and Friendship Academy of the Arts completed a School Quality Review, as they prepare proposals for implementation funding.


Schools that completed year one of implementation:

  • Global Academy
  • New Millennium Academy
  • Northeast College Prep
  • Prodeo Academy

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).

Daily attendance


91% daily student attendance during distance learning.

1/3 of Mpls public school students were absent or unable to complete school work because they lacked a device or paper packet. (Pioneer Press, April 2020)

Student engagement


95% of students connected at least weekly with a teacher.

61% of charter school parents reported their children had one-on-one interactions with their teachers at least once per week. (Education Next, July 2020)

Family engagement


Our portfolio schools and their teachers got in touch with 98% of their students and families.

49% of teachers in schools with higher concentrations of low-income students said they were able to get in touch with students/families. (RAND Survey, June 2020)

Teachers validate instructional culture is strengthening at our schools


As a growing school, we use the results of the TNTP Insight Survey to evaluate where our work is most effective at meeting our mission, and where we need to bring our team into tighter alignment.

John Trevino,
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

Local community organizations and small businesses that helped distribute Minneapolis School Finder:


Copies of Minneapolis School Finder distributed:


Visitors who explored


9 partner organizations completed trainings on Minneapolis School Finder and the ‘How to Pick a School’ companion piece to better support fami- lies as they navigate schools:


Between March and June, 512 unique visitors accessed online tools and resources that we aggregated for community partners to promote families’ access to critical needs and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

No. of commonly spoken languages in which the resources were offered:

  • English
  • Español
  • AF-Somalii
  • Hmoob

Impact of COVID-19: Distance learning reflections

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Global Academy:
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


There’s so much coming at us right now and so much uncertainty, for our entire school community. Good-to-Great helped us to create a new instructional learning leadership team structure; it has helped our school navigate really difficult times and position teachers to provide the best instruction they can.

Carl Phillips, Executive Director,
Northeast College Prep

10,000+ people accessed Minneapolis School Finder last year

Community partnerships:

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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

Julie Baker

Jane McDonald Black

Jason Brandenborg

Beth Finch

Jim Hield

David Nelson

Patrice Relerford

Julia Silvis

Chris Smith

Amy Walstein




89% of our budget was invested into school support—schools that enroll students historically underserved (42% English language learners, 82% FRL, 91% children of color)—as well as ecosystem and community supports.


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

Terry Becker

John and Joan Brooks Fund

Carlson Family Foundation

The Carolyn Foundation

City Fund

David Winton Bell Foundation

Mary Dolan | The Longview Foundation

Douglass Brandenborg Family Foundation

The Dryer Family Foundation

Becky Erdahl

Beth and David Finch

Frey Foundation

Alysa and Nicholas Gardino

General Mills Foundation

GHR Foundation

The Graves Foundation

Aimee and Bill Guidera

Bruce Hendry

Hixon Properties

I.A. O'Shaughnessy Foundation

JAB Foundation

The Joyce Foundation

LRE Foundation

Dave and Kathleen MacLennan

Bob and Polly McCrea

McKnight Foundation

Lucy Mitchell | The Longview Foundation

David and Leni Moore

John W. Mooty Foundation Trust

The Mortenson Family Foundation

Marcia Page

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

Smikis Foundation

Chris and Nell Smith | The Longview Foundation

Soran Foundation

Ed and Valerie Spencer

SPS Commerce

Turner Family Foundation


WEM 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.

In partnership,


Alberto Monserrate



Stan Alleyne

Vice Chair


Ben Whitney

Investment Committee Chair


Tad Piper