Last year, AchieveMpls and Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) joined 19 school districts around the country in receiving capacity-building grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s To and Through Advising Challenge. The Gates Foundation is working in partnership with the National College Access Network (NCAN) to support best practices that that boost postsecondary outcomes for underrepresented students, including strengthening college advising, increasing FAFSA and Minnesota Dream Act completion, reducing “summer melt” and utilizing data more effectively.
Our team members Leah Corey, Kevin Salkas and Lauren Bloem traveled to Dallas, Texas in March with MPS Lead Counseling Manager Jim Bierma for a national convening of all 20 grant recipients and their nonprofit partners. This “community of practice” heard from national career and college readiness experts, shared effective strategies and worked with Gates Foundation coaches on implementation plans for their specific school districts. Participants also explored common challenges to this work, including staff capacity, securing leadership buy-in, data tracking and analysis, academic readiness, partnering with parents and families, school culture and more.
Our AchieveMpls - MPS team is currently completing planning for the work they'll carry out in MPS schools next year, and they will continue to partner with Gates coaches on implementing the plan, conducting ongoing evaluation and incorporating new ideas.