Minneapolis Public Schools’ non-profit partner organization has received a $90,000 grant to help get more Minneapolis students to enroll in and graduate college.
AchieveMpls will use the grant to improve its college advising, increase access to financial aid and ensure that students who graduate with college plans actually attend in the fall. Members of the organization’s staff will also travel to Pittsburgh this month to meet with other grant recipients and share strategies.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing the grant to 20 school systems across the country.
“We’re really excited to be meeting with other like-minded districts, to learn from them and figure out what they’re doing,” said Leah Corey, AchieveMpls senior program director.
The grant announcement comes as AchieveMpls continues to work to help more Minneapolis students enroll in college and graduate from it. About 84 percent of white MPS graduates currently enroll in some form of postsecondary education, according to the organization, compared with 70 percent of graduates of color. Seventy percent of the district’s low-income students attend postsecondary education, compared with 86 percent of its students who are not low income.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will partner AchieveMpls with two coaches as part of the grant. One of the coaches will help the organization with college advising, while another will help it better use data to support its advising.
Corey noted, for example, that the organization will look closely at institutions’ graduation rates for students of color and for first-generation college students. It will also develop strategies to ensure students with college plans actually enroll in the fall.
According to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this “summer melt” affects 10–20 percent of college-intending students each year, with rates higher among those from low-income backgrounds. It also disproportionately affects those who would be the first in their family to attend college, according to the foundation.
An overwhelming majority of students aspire to attend college but that many never do, the foundation noted in its request for proposals. It added that postsecondary advising is particularly important for low-income students and students of color, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.
Nationwide, just 29 percent of African Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 have either two- or four-year degrees, compared with almost 50 percent of whites, according to the foundation. The foundation says wealthier students are graduating college at increasing rates, while the graduation rate for low-income students has barely budged.
Visit achievempls.org to learn more about the work of AchieveMpls.