Schools notebook: $13 million pledged to schools

Corporate foundations pledge $13 million to schools

Four of the state’s marquee corporations pledged more than $13 million over the next three years to Minneapolis Public Schools in May.

Grants from the foundation arms of Target, Cargill, General Mills and Medtronic will support early literacy and science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, programs in Minneapolis schools. The grants also target college readiness programs managed by AchieveMpls, the district’s foundation, as well as development programs for district principals and administrators.

“These corporate citizens are providing a strong, national model of how schools and the business community can collaborate to transform public education and provide our students with cutting-edge opportunities and learning tools,” said Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson.

Target’s donation will infuse district literacy initiatives with $6 million over three years and fund expansion of the Minnesota Reading Corps to all district schools. Reading tutors from the AmeriCorps program work with students in pre-kindergarten through third grade, bringing struggling readers up to grade level.

Said Johnson: “Reading by third grade reverses the failure trajectory of our students and guarantees that they can be on-track for success.”

The Cargill Foundation plans to give $5 million over the next three years to expand STEM education programs in schools, and another $1 million to create K-12 STEM “pathways” to bring consistency to science education in schools.

Cargill also pledged more than $1.7 million to AVID, or Advancement through Individual Determination, an AchieveMpls program that helps prepare low-income and minority high school students for college.

Cargill joined with General Mills and Medtronic to form the Collaboration for Education Excellence, a new initiative to recruit and train high-quality principals and administrators to the district. It will also fund development of a succession plan for principals and executive coaching for Johnson and other top administrators.

Together, the companies will donate $2.8 million to the initiative over three years.

“Every child deserves the right to attend a strong and effective school,” said Ellen Luger, executive director of the General Mills Foundation. “Cultivating high-impact leadership within the Minneapolis Public Schools will help ensure that this will happen.”

AchieveMpls CEO Pam Costain said about nine months of planning and negotiations between district and corporate leaders preceded the May 2 announcement.

Costain said the gifts were a “strong vote of confidence” in the leadership of Johnson, who was promoted to superintendent last summer, as well as the district’s 2007–2012 strategic plan, which she helped develop in her former role as a School Board member. Having specific achievement goals set out in a strategic plan was “critical” to winning the grants, she said.

“I am very proud of the work we did on the strategic plan,” she continued. “I think it has given the district a framework [for] operating, and the superintendent, who was the deputy superintendent when it was designed, really played a big role in bringing that focus to the district.”

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Burroughs donates to tsunami relief

LYNNHURST — In coin jars set out in classrooms throughout April, Burroughs Community Students collected money to support tsunami relief efforts in Japan, and on May 4 presented a $6,280 check to the American Red Cross May 4.

That’s a heap of spare change.

Burroughs parent Kathryn Klibanoff said fifth-grade teacher Janel McGreevy inspired the fundraising campaign.

“She has family in Japan and was inspired to do something more and run another one of these penny drives,” Klibanoff said.

But it was more than a few pennies here and there that got Burroughs above the $6,000 mark. Groups of students arranged individual fundraisers outside of school, selling slices of pizza and cupcakes or, in the case of Klibanoff’s kindergarten-age daughter, selling old toys, books and stuffed animals with friends and running a lemonade stand “on the rainiest, coldest morning of the spring so far.”

One group of students solicited donations outside of Kingfield-neighborhood bakery Patisserie 46. The bakery’s owners showed up at the school May 4 to kick in another $450 for the campaign, she said.

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Linden Hills Destination Imagination team takes state

FULTON — A team of six eighth-grade students, five of them from Lake Harriet Community School, took first place in the middle school division at the Destination ImagiNation state tournament April 16.

Kaj Anders-MacLeod, Seth Colbert-Pollack, Hannah Fitzgerald, Nathanial Larson, Piper Shatz-Akin and Becca Tincher of the Linden Hills Community Team qualified for the national tournament May 25–28 in Knoxville, Tenn. They have been competing together since the fourth grade.

Destination ImagiNation is a competition that emphasizes creativity and teamwork in solving open-ended challenges.

A spaghetti dinner fundraiser to support the team is 6 p.m.–8 p.m. May 16 at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, 900 Mount Curve Ave.