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The Education Partnership Movement in Minnesota

Stories from the frontier of education collaboration in Greater Minnesota

An exciting new movement toward holistic and highly organized local education partnerships – true collaborations focused on helping all students succeed from birth through post-secondary career readiness – is picking up momentum in Minnesota.  This Star Tribune Sunday Op-Ex cover article by Growth & Justice President Dane Smith describes this exciting new statewide trend and how it is flourishing in both the Twin Cities and in Greater Minnesota.

This webpage serves as a general source of information and news about these partnerships in rural and Greater Minnesota and is designed to help communities begin thinking about how they might develop their own partnerships. These collaborations are a sophisticated response to highly complex problems of socio-economic disparity and widening gaps by income and race.  Because of that complexity, we think understanding them is best accomplished through story-telling.  Here we offer a series of four detailed narratives of what these partnerships are like, from the perspective of Bridget Dooley, a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence University in New York, and its renowned writing program. Bridget served Growth & Justice as an education intern in the summer of 2015 and travelled hundreds of miles, criss-crossing Minnesota, and interviewing dozens of individuals to learn about the partnerships.

Red Wing

As the name implies, Every Hand Joined brings together a broad coalition of educators, parents, childcare providers, business leaders, nonprofits, and local government in order to give young people ‘the support they need on a path to a meaningful career.’ To achieve this, they aspire to goals of kindergarten readiness, social & emotional support, academic success, post-high school learning, and career readiness. The partnership earned the 2014 Local Government Innovation Award in the school category from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Itasca County

Home to 45,000, Itasca County spans 2,928 square miles—one of the most sparsely populated in the state. This can present challenges for the most vulnerable in the area. Learn how local residents built on a local tradition of collaboration, joining forces to fill in gaps and coordinate resources to ensure more Itasca families have access to childcare, basics like breakfast, clean clothes, and healthy relationships with a parent or caregiver, improved school curricula and out-of-school programming, a wider range of higher-level courses, and better connectedness with their communities. This data-driven whole-child approach, they believe, not only benefits children and families, but the whole region.

St. Cloud

Partner for Student Success works to improve student outcomes in the St. Cloud area, including Sauk Rapids, Sartell-St. Stephen, and Cold Spring. They take on “the ambitious task of igniting a community-wide effort to improve student outcomes.” Since the Partnership began in 2010, 75 people from the school districts, youth-serving organizations, nonprofits, and business leaders have joined in the work. Using a collective impact, Cradle-to-Career framework, the group hopes to align the work of local community members, institutions, and organizations.


Northfield Promise works to help all Northfield area children thrive, from early childhood to career entry. Connecting and aligning resources, programs and community members to collaborate toward measurable results on 10 benchmarks throughout every child’s life accomplish this work. The Northfield area is rich with great community resources. By coordinating the work of these resources to aid children in reaching the benchmarks, Northfield Promise aims to achieve community-level change for children and youth.

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