Generation Next Stakeholder Event Recap

Last week, Generation Next – led by former Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, held a stakeholder event to give an update on their work surrounding the achievement gap and college readiness. The full presentation and background data can be found here. They are currently working on a few key action items in regards to early childhood education through 3rd grade, including:
  • Expanding screening for every 3 year old in Minneapolis and St. Paul by engaging parents through network partners and medical providers. Screening early allows education officials and medical professionals to catch any learning disabilities prior to the child starting kindergarten and allows the appropriate parties to address those barriers in an effort to set the child up for success.
  • Raising the quality of early childcare. There are currently a large number of children aged 0-5 enrolled in Centers and Licensed Family Child Care, but a low percentage of those programs are rated as “high-quality” (38% and 6%, respectively). The focus is not on shifting children out of these programs, but on what we can do to enhance the quality of them.
  • Expanding the Literacy Tutoring Network and utilizing data to enhance the effectiveness of volunteer reading programs. Minneapolis and St. Paul residents currently donate a generous amount of time to various school reading programs. The focus now is on capitalizing on that volunteer network and using data on most effective methods to get the best possible impact out of these programs.
Question for JL Members: Are you involved in any type of literacy or reading volunteer program through your community or within your workplace? How do you think these programs could be improved to enhance their effectiveness?
Post contributed by Bri Fields.
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Advocacy Event: Coffee with Congressman Keith Ellison

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) hosts many events and trainings throughout the year, including a Coffee with Congress series.  These gatherings are informative and honest, giving citizens direct access to representative’s perspective and priorities.  It also provides a venue to ask questions and share your own ideas.  At the very least, it’s a great first step into Advocacy!

Join MCN for their next coffee with Congressman Keith Ellison, representing Minnesota’s fifth congressional district, onThursday, May 28, from 3 – 4 p.m. at the Lutheran Social Service – Center for Changing Lives in Minneapolis.

If interested, sign up here.  And be sure to reach out to next year’s Advocacy Chair Carrie Curtis to share your experience!

Deciphering What’s Relevant

We’ve now seen the budget targets from every branch of state government. The House GOP released their numbers suggesting a $156 million in increased spending for education. The Senate DFL released their numbers suggesting an increase of $350 million. The Governor propsed $895 million in new spending and $343 million of dedicated funds to early childhood education expansion. What do these numbers mean? What will we end up with? The simple answer is this, these numbers are all a starting point and are proposed budget targets, it is now the job of each body of government to pass legislation and stick to their targets. In the final days the total amount spent in each area will end up somewhere in the middle. This budget item will be one of many things that are a part of a final universal negotiation, between the House and Senate leadership and the Governor.

For those of us who advocate, it is now our job to try to make that number as large as we can in order to ensure our projects are in the final agreement. How do we do that? In the coming weeks when opportunities arise to engage with members of the Minnesota House or Senate, each of us can ask for the total we would like to see. Sometimes it is a simple note asking for increased funding for early childhood funding in the form of grants to low-income families. Other times, it is an interaction in a grocery store, or a phone call to the legislator. As advocates now is the time for us to advocate for what we would like to see in the final education budget. Would you be willing to connect with you legislator to ask for increased funding to provide grants for low-income families for early childhood funding?

Find out who represents you and how to contact them here – http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/districtfinder.aspx

Post contributed by Kelsey Johnson.