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Celebrating 10 Years

In 2002, Growth & Justice was founded in order to build a wider progressive consensus on public policy issues in Minnesota. For a decade we have advanced research-based policies to restore Minnesota’s status as a leader in economic success and quality of life. We are grateful for the hard work and generosity of thousands of Minnesotans who have shared and supported our vision over the last ten years. Learn more about our history by reading some of the highlights below...


December – Growth & Justice is founded by Joel Kramer, former publisher of the Star Tribune, and Lori Schaefer is hired as the first staffer. 


March 20 – Growth & Justice officially launches and unveils itself to the public in an Op-Ed by executive director and founder Joel Kramer. This commentary, A better and fairer way to deal with the state's budget crisis, runs in the Star Tribune on the same day another editorial, A welcome new think tank, calls the emergence of Growth & Justice  “an especially welcome thing, at a time when too many Minnesota politicians are following divide and conquer strategies.”

March 26 – The website www.growthandjustice.org is launched. 

March 19 – Growth & Justice begins its first project. The Wage Project focuses on the inability of low-income workers to support their families and begins hosting round table discussions with people around the state to help shape the strategic direction of the project. 


February 23 – Growth & Justice publishes Workforce First, asserting that Minnesota can substantially increase the number of self-sufficient families and also strengthen the state's economy with a serious commitment to providing more education and skills for workers. 

May 26 – Robert Reich is the featured speaker at the first Worst Political Advertising in America Awards, a fundraising event that attracts nearly 800 attendees. 

November 10 – The Rethinking Minnesota's Taxes Project is launched with the goal of reforming Minnesota's revenue system to be simultaneously more fair and better for job growth.  


February 18 – Growth & Justice publicly launches its tax proposal and releases the Rethinking Minnesota's Taxes (updated in 2008) presentation which proposed higher individual income taxes on high earners and lower taxes on business.

November 16 – The New Economic Agenda project is launched and Growth & Justice brings together 12 esteemed community leaders to help guide the project. The goal of the steering committee was to form a consensus on a framework for investing wisely and cost-effectively in Minnesota's future.  


June 22 – Growth & Justice makes headlines with a full page ad in the Star Tribune signed by more than 200 wealthy Minnesotans who state “We can afford to pay more state taxes and we can’t afford not to.”


January 20 – The Invest for Real Prosperity report is released and proposes a strategic framework which still guides the work of Growth & Justice today. Themes such as investing in Minnesota's people and places, raising tax revenues fairly, and maintaining fiscal discipline and accountability are recommended in order to achieve the objective of real prosperity.

April 25 – Dane Smith is announced as the new President of Growth & Justice, as founder Joel Kramer steps down but remains on the board of directors.

November 12  Growth & Justice hosts more than 200 educators and education advocates, stakeholders and legislators at the Minnesota History Center in a day-long summit. Local and national scholars are featured in presentations and panel disucssions on cost-effective interventions in education from birth to college. Five new research reports on these topics are released in conjunction with the event. 


March 21Smart Investments in Minnesota's Students premieres. This documentary, made in collaboration with Twin Cities Public Television, features highlights from our November 12, 2007 education summit. 

May 21 – Growth & Justice hosts The Second Quadrennial Worst Political Advertising in America Awards. The fundraiser, featuring keynote speaker journalist Aaron Brown, brought together politicians and political personalities from both sides of the aisle to laugh at absurd political ads from around the country.  

September 3 – Held during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota's Progressive Republican Tradition: A History of Investing for Real Prosperity features Governor Al Quie, Governor Arne Carlson, and U.S. Representative Jim Ramstad in an examination of Minnesota's political culture.

November 17 – After two years of research, civic engagement, and consensus building, Growth & Justice unveils Smart Investments in Minnesota's Students: A Research-Based Investment ProposalThe report and accompanying policy briefs offer a fresh way to look at investing new education dollars for better results, and receives high praise from elected officials and education experts.   


January 15 – The Invest in Minnesota Campaign, a coalition of labor, nonprofit and faith organizations, kicks off. The campaign was cofounded by Growth & Justice and its efforts to raise state revenues fairly to invest in the state's critical needs are based on our Invest for Real Prosperity report

March 10Smart Economic Development for Minnesota is published. This report highlights pressing economic development challenges for the short term, presents smart approaches and policy principles for the long term, explores why the public sector plays a role in economic development, and explains the potential drivers of regional economic growth.

March 19 – The report Governing with Accountability sets forth basic principles for government effectiveness, and identifies key problem areas and opportunities for improvement.

March 23  House and Senate bills authored by Rep. Ryan Winkler and Sen. Chuck Wiger reflect key ideas set forth in Smart Investments in Minnesota's Students

September 22 – In their first appearance together at a public forum, Vice President Walter Mondale and Governor Arne Carlson discuss the many challenges facing Minnesota and share their thoughts on how the state can regain its nation-leading status, both economically and in quality-of-life measurements. This forum is part of our Big Thinkers speakers series. 

October 4 – In collaboration with the Minnesota DFL Education Foundation, Growth & Justice brings distinguished author and policy expert, Robert Kuttner, to the Twin Cities to discuss progressive thought and his new book, Obama's Challenge: America's Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency.


March 9 – Growth & Justice releases a video that outlines a strategic plan for improving educational outcomes for Minnesota's student. 

May 19 – A series of two-page issue briefs on education is released. These briefs outline challenges for Minnesota, smart approaches to investments in education, and recommendations for action in each of five educational stages from birth through postsecondary study. 

June 22 – Growth & Justice hosts a gubernatorial candidate forum on education, co-sponsored by Minnesota Minority Education Partnership, Minnesota Rural Education Association, Parents United for Public Schools, and Ready4K. Forum participants include candidates Mark Dayton, Matt Entenza, Rob Hahn, and Tom Horner. 

July 8 – In a press conference at the State Capitol, Growth & Justice unveils A Smart Investment Agenda for Minnesota's Next Decade. The agenda offers a vision for the state, with measurable goals and specific strategies for investments in education, infrastructure, transportation, public health, and a cleaner economy. 


February 4 – The Cincinnati School District is examined in our case study report on the success the district has shown in improving high school graduation rates for all students, and closing the gap in rates for students of color.

March 1 – Growth & Justice releases a Smart Investment Agenda for Education in Minnesota which lists policy recommendations for the legislative session. Increasing the higher education attainment rate to 75 percent by the year 2020 is a top priority.

May 19HF 1734 and SF 1447 are introduced at the Legislature. The bills call for a state goal that by 2020 at least 75 percent of state residents at age 25 have attained a postsecondary degree or certificate. This goal was first described in our Smart Investments in Minnesota's Students report.

October 27 – Growth & Justice hosts a transportation policy forum in conjunction with the release of Smart Investments in Transportation for Minnesota: Goals and Targets to Spur Growth and Expand Prosperity. The report proposes transportation goals for the state aimed at spurring business growth, expanding prosperity for people and places and boosting the quality of life. The proposals are based on a series of research papers and briefs published by Growth & Justice over the two previous years.


January 19 – Whole Towns Coming Together for All Students is released. This report highlights eight Greater Minnesota communities and their unique efforts to improve student success.

March 28 – Growth & Justice releases a study on the economic impact of a universal and unified health care system for Minnesota. The report, Beyond the Affordable Care Act: An Economic Analysis of a Unified System of Health Care for Minnesota, shows that significant health cost savings in Minnesota are possible. The findings are based on an economic impact analysis commissioned by Growth & Justice and conducted by health policy experts at The Lewin Group. 

April 27 – Education policy recommendations from our 2008 Smart Investments in Minnesota's Students report are included in the Education Omnibus bill and signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton. The new law provides funding to the evidence-based early literacy Parent-Child Home Program and expands Post-Secondary Enrollment Options. 

November 6 Throughout the election season, Growth & Justice encouraged Minnesotans to vote no on the two constitutional amendments on the ballot. Both the voter-restriction and marriage amendments failed to garner enough support to pass. 

This timeline represents just a handful of the things Growth & Justice has accomplished in its first 10 years. In that time we have also published numerous commentaries and opinion/editorials, held hundreds of conversations with policymakers, community leaders and citizens of Minnesota, and issued nearly 60 policy reports, briefs and research papers.

This would not be possible without the individual donors and foundations who have supported our work throughout the years. If you would like to help us continue our work, just click on the orange Support Our Work button at the top of any page.

Here's to another 10 years of Smart Investments, Practical Solutions, and Broader Prosperity! 

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