Graves Foundation, Pollen Midwest launch education initiative

The John and Denise Graves Family Foundation and Pollen Midwest have launched an initiative aimed at generating interest in public education in Minneapolis.

The organizations hope to help people better understand issues facing public education and enable them to become more active in the system through the effort, called Unbound. They plan on posting stories and fact sheets to the Unbound webpage and hosting events on issues facing Minneapolis schools.

“The idea is to have a new conversation about education,” said Kyrra Rankine, the Graves Foundation’s partnerships and initiatives director.

Unbound follows a program the Graves Foundation launched before the Minneapolis Board of Education elections in 2016, called Animate the Race. The foundation had a handful of fellows write blog posts about the election, with the goal of raising the profile of the race, Rankine said. It also hosted a candidate forum.

Rankine said there are three main parts to Unbound: a storytelling component, community outreach and the fact sheets on education topics. The storytelling component will include a series of articles and personal essays, which the organizations will post to the Unbound website, Rankine said. The fact sheets will be on topics such as budgeting and governance, and the community-outreach piece will include house parties and potentially a School Board candidates forum.

Minneapolis Public Schools knows about the initiative, Rankine said, and has been willing to give the organizations information for it.

“This isn’t a ‘gotcha’ campaign in any way,” she said, adding that it’s about having an honest conversation.

Former School Board member and AchieveMpls CEO Pam Costain is also working on the project.

The Graves Foundation provides funding to organizations in Minneapolis area that support and educate disadvantaged youth. It gives grants to proven K-12 school leaders and funds organizations that work on systemwide policy changes in education and support parent and student engagement within education. The foundation also funds organizations that provide support and care to youth transitioning out of foster care within Hennepin County.

Pollen Midwest is a community-building organization that hosts networking and professional development events and operates a job board, among other efforts.