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2013 Education Reflection

December 16, 2013 in Archive: Past Education Blogs

Helping Children Succeed

Helping Children Succeed

2013 was a significant year for education in the Twin Cities including securing $46 million in early learning scholarships through the Minnesota state legislation, and welcoming Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak to Generation Next.

Other exciting work included:

  • Launched the LearnTogetherMN website to share progress on the federal grants Minnesota received, such as Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge, Promise Neighborhood, i3 and Social Innovation Fund.
  • In partnership with Generation Next, Greater Twin Cities United Way selected and funded six agencies to receive Social Innovation Fund subgrants from the Corporation of National and Community Service to support their education work in alignment with Generation Next’s cradle to career efforts in the Twin Cities.
  • We hosted an Education Forum on January 23, 2013 with Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo and New York Department of Education’s Andrea Coleman. The forum focused on innovative education practices locally and nationally.

In 2014, the Helping Children Succeed team is looking forward to providing more opportunities for peer learning and continuous improvement among grantees through various engagement strategies. We will also be launching a new Out-of-School Time funding competition.

Rachel Oberg-Hauser, associate program manager, education
Bharti Wahi, senior manager, education
Naomi Zuk-Fisher, program manager, education

Thank You for Attending

December 16, 2013 in Archive: Past Education Blogs, Events, Out-of-School Time, Public Policy, Uncategorized, Youth Programs

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Children & Youth Issues Briefing

DATE: Thursday, January 9
TIME: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
LOCATION: The Crowne Plaza Riverfront Hotel
11 Kellogg Blvd. E., St. Paul

Thank you for attending with hundreds of other advocates at this year’s 2014 Children & Youth Issues Briefing, which convenes each year prior to the start of the legislative session. This year’s programming focused on innovative initiatives and emerging legislative issues expected to significantly impact our state’s children and youth. Hear from experts and leaders across the state, and engage in panel discussions to learn what’s on the horizon for Minnesota’s children and youth through the lens of policy and systems change.

The program included presentations by the Office of Early Learning, Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet, State Legislator, the MN Afterschool Network, MinneMinds and Generation Next.

Materials will be available here on United Front in the next week, so check back for downloadable presentations and handouts. Read the rest of this entry →


September 25, 2013 in Archive: Past Education Blogs, Uncategorized, Youth Programs

Essay Contest Encourages Kids to Help Others

Essay-Contest-WinnersChildren in our community are making a difference and we want to hear about it. Greater Twin Cities United Way, Star Tribune and U.S. Bank have teamed up to sponsor an essay contest to give children a chance to write about how they LIVE UNITED and can make a positive impact in our community.

Teachers, parents and community leaders are encouraged to invite children from grades 3-5 to participate. Essays for the “LIVE UNITED” contest should be creative and original. Prizes will be awarded to the top 10 winning essayists and their stories published in the Star Tribune. Please share with your networks!

The Details

What: An essay contest for children in grades 3-5. Submissions are welcome from families, community organizations and schools. (Teachers, please send only the top five per class.) Must include name, age, grade, address, phone number and email address.

Theme: Essays should be no more than 100 words and must incorporate the LIVE UNITED theme.

Deadline: Essays must be received by Friday, October 11.

Submit: Email essays to or send via postal mail to:
Greater Twin Cities United Way, Essay Contest
404 S. 8th St., Minneapolis, MN 55404.

Winners: The first-place winner will receive a $500 Visa gift card from U.S. Bank. The nine runners-up will each receive a $100 Visa gift card. All 10 winners will have their essays published in the Variety section of the Star Tribune on November 9 and will be invited to celebrate at the Star Tribune on November 20 with their family.

More info: Call United Way at 612-340-7400.


September 4, 2013 in Archive: Past Education Blogs, Closing the Gap, Poverty

American Student Learns Valuable Lessons

by MaryBeth Zins

As the summer draws to a close and I prepare to return to finish my last year of undergraduate studies at University of Wisconsin – Madison, I reflect on a great opportunity that I had this summer as part of a three-week volunteer trip to India. I know not all young people and children around the world are returning to the same circumstances as me – not all schools are created equal, but witnessing first-hand the vast inequalities around the world is eye-opening and enlightening.

Sector 3, Faridabad, IndiaDuring my visit I very quickly learned the first rule of India: there is always more. There is always more room, more time, more people, more food, more prayer. But sadly, for Indian school children, there may not be more school supplies, more seats in the classroom, or more teachers to teach them. Three other female volunteers and I were placed to teach English in Little Angels Public School in Faridabad, 25km south of New Delhi. The 15-minute walk to school from our home stay was an adventure in itself as we sidestepped cows, bicycles, burning piles of trash, stray dogs, and bathing men and children. Read the rest of this entry →


July 30, 2013 in Archive: Past Education Blogs, Closing the Gap, Educational Continuum, Grants, Public Policy

An Education Secretary’s View of Minnesota

Reposted from StarTribune by Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education

The state is making good efforts in giving students a strong start.

Arne Duncan in Classroom

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, right, joined Jody Bohrer’s Kindersprouts circle time – Courtesy of Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

The best ideas to put children on a path to school success rarely come from Washington, D.C.

President Obama has put forward a plan to make high-quality preschool affordable for all children — a vital step in putting young people on a path to a thriving middle class. As I saw firsthand in a pair of visits in the Minneapolis area on Tuesday, that effort builds on the work of states like Minnesota.

The day began at Pond Early Childhood Family Center in Bloomington, where I sat with students who sang a song, recited the alphabet and discussed some of their favorite words. The visit was an inspiring example of great educators helping kids get ready for kindergarten in a setting of joy and support. Read the rest of this entry →

LearnTogetherMN Quarterly Update

July 30, 2013 in Archive: Past Education Blogs, Closing the Gap, Grants, Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge

Child-Parent Center

Grade schoolers looking at a globeThe nearly 300 children in CPC programs in MN had their last day of school in early June, and are on their way to enjoying summer vacation. The CPC Expansion project has had several achievements and challenges this year. One challenge has been building the CPC culture in schools new to the model. READ MORE


Early Learning Challenge

Two kindergarteners getting help with writingIn May, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius announced the appointment of Melvin Carter III as the new Director of the Office of Early Learning. As director, Carter will oversee a coordinated effort with the Minnesota Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, including overseeing the Race to the Top – Early learning Challenge Grant and resulting state plan. READ MORE


Northside Achievement Zone

Grade schooler writing at a desk with other kidsToday, about one quarter of children living in our Zone start kindergarten ready to learn—marking the beginning of the achievement gap. In 2012, we hired a NAZ Early Childhood Navigator who specializes in ensuring families get the right resources for their children. NAZ has already used Scholarships funded through the Early Learning Challenge grant to support young children in the Zone in attending three-and four-star Parent Aware rated early childhood centers. READ MORE

LearnTogetherMN Launches!

June 26, 2013 in Archive: Past Education Blogs, Closing the Gap, Grants, Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge

LTMN Email BannerOn the same day that Governor Dayton signed the E-12 education bill into law, Greater Twin Cities United Way, in partnership with The McKnight Foundation, is excited to announce the launch of

The new site, hosted here on United Front, will allow Minnesota’s education community to track progress on local initiatives that receive federal funding, as well as access information and resources. By sharing our grants partners’ work, our hope is that lessons learned and resources created will be put to use by other programs throughout our community, for the immediate benefit of children and families.

The U.S. Department of Education has invested $90 million dollars to support these grants:

This investment, along with the state’s new allocation of $20 million in the E-12 bill for the statewide expansion of Early Learning Scholarships, will ensure that children in our community have the opportunity for a brighter future.

If you’d like to get quarterly grant progress updates from LearnTogetherMN, sign up here.

What Can Harlem Teach The Twin Cities?

May 3, 2013 in Archive: Past Education Blogs, Closing the Gap

Harlem Achievement Zone President & CEO Geoffrey Canada–nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem recently visited the Twin Cities and spoke to nonprofit and philanthropic leaders at Greater Twin Cities United Way on Friday, April 19. His message–communities can bolster economic growth by eradicating the disparities which threaten the vitality of our nation–namely, the academic achievement gap. The majority of his comments reflected the Promise Neighborhood movement inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone’s work in North Minneapolis.


May 2, 2013 in Archive: Past Education Blogs, Out-of-School Time, Uncategorized, Youth Programs

In this final addition of our special blog series, United Front’s Education Community explores how reductions in state and federal funding is adversely impacting Minnesota Afterschool programs — “essential ingredients for the learning and development of successful young people.”

Part Three: Afterschool Programs Make a Difference

What we know about afterschool programs:

  • The range of learning opportunities is amazing. Participants can learn to swim, to use and/or build computers, to volunteer in their communities, to lead and design their own learning opportunities, to be active in sports and physical activities, to be an artist, a farmer and gardener, or to sing. Read the rest of this entry →

Focus on Education

May 2, 2013 in Archive: Past Education Blogs, Uncategorized, Youth Programs

The Hell of American Day Care | New Republic

An investigation into the barely regulated, unsafe business of looking after our children.
Read Article

High Cost of Education is Lesson Learned Early | Pioneer Press

“The state doesn’t require all-day kindergarten, so districts don’t have to offer it for free.” Read Article