The Junior League of Minneapolis’ (JLM) Project Development committee (PD) is tasked with developing ideas for future League projects that aim to eliminate many of the underlying causes of the achievement gap. We took time at our October committee meeting to reflect on Mayor R.T. Rybak’s comments from the September JLM General Membership Meeting on how Generation Next, a coalition of civic, business and education leaders, which aims to close the achievement and opportunity gaps for students of color in the Twin Cities, also working toward this goal. We had a lot of thoughts around how the work the League is currently doing and how the new projects PD is brainstorming align with Generation Next’s goals.
The committee took away that our current League projects strongly align with Generation Next’s goals of: 1) Kindergarten Readiness, 2) 3rd grade literary achievement and 3) 100% High School Graduation. We felt that a project like Backpack Buddies sets kids up for success, as it’s hard to focus on reading or math when you’re hungry. Between The Lines encourages reading and promotes a love for books. While, H.O.M.E.S. emphasizes math and science while engaging families in creating learning environments in the home.
Our team then considered where the League could still do more work and brainstormed several ideas and questions:
- What if we tried to have additional literacy projects that have a broader reach? Perhaps we could create a program that could reach out to parents and equip them with the tools to prepare their children for kindergarten?
- Should we try to further address another goal like improving graduation rates?
And we had some broader thoughts about the nature of PD’s work:
- How do we even begin to study what the problem might be in order to see how we could fit into the solution?
- When we identify a community need, how do we create engaging and meaningful JLM shifts around it?
These are the types of ideas and questions that the PD group is asking. We plan to use this connection with Generation Next to help us make guided decisions to maximize the fantastic resources our organization shepherds each year.