1. There are many scholarship programs and other educational enrichment programs in the Twin Cities, how is Destination 2010 different? Why is The Minneapolis Foundation doing “direct service”?
Destination 2010 is more comprehensive than many other scholarship efforts. It is longer term (9 years), larger in scope (started with 450 students in 2 school districts), began with a focus on younger kids (3rd graders), and has significant parent engagement built into the design. Furthermore, Destination 2010 makes use of a wide range of experiences and opportunities for students. We offer a variety of options to families, and intentionally, we do not do “one size fits all” programming.
This is not a “direct service” program. Rather, it is an initiative designed to leverage existing community resources and opportunities and to “connect the dots” among organizations, schools, and families. In our work with these students, we learn a great deal about the lives of all youth in our community and hopefully strengthen the networks of support, encouragement, and opportunity. Fundamentally, Destination 2010is not just about helping individual kids succeed; it is about transforming our educational system so that all kids can succeed.
2. How were the schools and students selected?
The Minneapolis Foundation worked collaboratively with key leadership in Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools to select the schools. Schools were selected that had students most in need on a range of measures (test scores, overall school performance, English Language Learners, free and reduced lunch, etc.).
3. Why focus on 3rd graders? Why not scholarships for older students?
Research has shown that around 3rd grade students facing the most difficult academic and social challenges often begin to show signs of failure. The Minneapolis Foundation wanted to intervene at a point that would put students on a path to success before they began to experience failure and fall behind. By providing an incentive at an early age we have demonstrated that these students have an opportunity for success and that the community believes they can succeed.
4. How do you justify some kids and not others? What happens to the rest of the kids in these schools, will they see benefits?
All of the 3rd graders in each of our selected schools were eligible to participate. It is our expectation that the changes generated in the school systems will have a long-term positive effect on the systems as a whole. Programmatic enhancements in the schools (e.g., classroom mentors and tutors, field trips, etc.) bring expanded opportunities and supports to more than just Destination 2010 students. Our work in the community should strengthen connections that will benefit all students. Furthermore, The Minneapolis Foundation hopes that Destination 2010 serves as a call to action for individuals, corporations and funders who can continue to make investments to provide these supports for more youth.
5. How will The Minneapolis Foundation make support services available to students? What types of services do you expect to be needed? How will you handle the fact that some students will need more help than others?
The Destination 2010 Team works closely with the schools, the community, the districts, the students, and the parents to identify services that would improve the schools and also opportunities which may meet specific student needs. These services could include before and after school programming, leadership development, college and career exploration opportunities, and mentoring or tutoring. For parents, they could include information and encouragement to remain involved and informed advocates for their children in school, as well promoters of their healthy development and engagement in the community. Parents and students alike will receive assistance with preparing for post-secondary education, including information on school and course choices, financial aid, etc. Support services will be made available to students on an as-needed / as interested basis, in collaboration with non-profit partners.
6. What kinds of incentives and supports are built into the program to help parents?
We start with the premise that all parents care about their children and want them to be happy and successful. Our hope is that the promise of a scholarship upon graduation will serve as a huge incentive for parents to get involved and more closely monitor and support their child's education. Parents will have opportunities to participate in Destination 2010 family activities and to meet other parents who are trying to help their children be successful. We also urge parents to get involved in school activities such as attending parent-teacher conferences, and when we can we try to address common barriers to participation such as childcare and transportation. We extend the kind of information about planning for post-secondary that many families may not get early on, especially if no one has ever gone to college. We count on engaging parent leaders in the development of Destination 2010 and nurture parent leadership skills.
7. Destination 2010 focuses on kids from the lowest performing schools who have some of the biggest achievement challenges to overcome. Why does The Minneapolis Foundation believe that it can leverage success for those kids when the districts have had difficulty doing so?
We believe that the dynamic combination of direct support to kids in low performing schools, increased attention to broad systems issues, significant engagement of parents, and the incentive of a scholarship will lead to increased student achievement resulting in high school graduation for participating children. Most other efforts have focused on only one or possibly two of these components. Destination 2010 is also designed to leverage the current on-going improvement efforts in both districts, programs in the districts currently funded by The Minneapolis Foundation and others, with aggressive assistance to identify additional resources that can be focused on the success of our students. The education of all students is a community responsibility; we challenge others in the community to become involved, as well.
8. Mobility in both districts is a huge issue, yet the program requires continuous enrollment for students to remain eligible in the program. Why is this a requirement? What support will The Minneapolis Foundation provide to students and families to help them stay continuously enrolled?
Data from both districts shows that kids who are continuously enrolled perform at higher levels. We acknowledge that mobility will be one of the greatest challenges of Destination 2010, but we encourage parents to keep their kids in the same school or district, whenever possible. When students move, it is critical to engage the broader community in “being the glue” for students, staying connected so that kids don't “fall through the cracks.”
We believe that lack of safe and affordable housing is at the heart of the mobility issue. The Minneapolis Foundation is making significant investments in trying to increase the quality and supply of housing in our community.
9. What is the total cost of Destination 2010? Where did / will the funds come from to support the program?
We estimate that Destination 2010 will require about $3 million. The Bush Foundation ($500,000) provided initial support, and The Minneapolis Foundation has looked to the community to help provide additional resources. Countless individuals, corporations, and foundations have stepped up to support Destination 2010. A portion of the funds has been invested to generate scholarships in 2010. The remaining funds are being used for annual operating support for the program.
10. How does this fit in with other initiatives in the districts-those funded by The Minneapolis Foundation and others?
Both districts are working hard to improve graduation rates for all students and especially for students of color. These efforts are part of both district improvement agendas / accountability frameworks and can be seen in community collaborations, high school reform, staff development, and a variety of other strategies. Destination 2010 works in the context of these improvements and provides a direct link to other Foundation investments in the districts. Examples of these include the Measuring Up reports and Arts for Academic Achievement (Minneapolis Public Schools) and the Teacher Best Practices Demonstration Site and Principal Leadership Institute (St. Paul Public Schools) -- funded by the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. Foundation for Education, Public Health and Social Justice, a funding partner of The Minneapolis Foundation.
11. The Minneapolis Foundation has a reputation of focusing mostly on the city of Minneapolis, why is the foundation venturing into St. Paul?
The Minneapolis Foundation has a regional, statewide focus and has a long history of investments in St. Paul and greater Minnesota . We believe that the challenges facing public education are not just Minneapolis challenges. It was important to us to engage with and learn from the two largest urban districts in our community.
12. What is the evaluation process and how will you know if you are successful?
The Minneapolis Foundation has contracted Wilder Research to conduct an evaluation both quantitative and qualitative in method. In phase II, the current evaluation model expands upon the core quantitative evaluation previously conducted by The University of Minnesota under the direction of Dr. Susan Wells, the Gamble-Skogmo Chair in Child Welfare and Youth Policy. Destination 2010 is not a controlled experiment, but instead uses a comparison group approach to the evaluation to enhance the quality of the study findings. The evaluation will maintain a focus on measuring outcomes, seeking to determine the degree to which the project had long-term impact on high school graduation rates and undertaking post-secondary education. It will also provide context to these and other outcomes by examining topics with broader implications such as: What experiences are Destination 2010 students having at school? What is the school environment like for them? What is the role of youth programs in the lives of students? What skills / resources do Destination 2010 students need to successfully enter and complete post-secondary education? Information gathered along the way will also aid the Destination 2010 team in adjusting program strategies.
13. Has this or any program like it been tried in other places? What were the results?
Other scholarship/enrichment programs have been tried on a smaller scale around the country with positive but varied results. In most programs, the results include increased parent involvement, increased student achievement, and increased student graduation rates. Mentoring and tutoring have been significant elements of other models. The Minneapolis Foundation has tried to build on the lessons learned from these successful efforts, while at the same time building in other components (such as a focus on systems-reform) that we feel are necessary to creating success for all kids.
Page last updated 08/2007