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Image: Image for News Item: Student success initiatives across the state supported through Blandin Foundation grant

Student success initiatives across the state supported through Blandin Foundation grant


Grand Rapids, Minn. —Communities across Minnesota are taking action to reframe what success means for young residents.  Under a variety of banners and adopting a range of strategies, these initiatives have a common goal: success in the first third of life.  Now, these individual Minnesota efforts can be seen as a network of action, thanks to a grant from Blandin Foundation in support of work by the Growth & Justice organization.

The Minnesota Statewide Student Success Movement is being boosted by Growth & Justice, one of the state’s respected policy research and advocacy organizations.  A three-year, $300,000 grant from Grand Rapids-based Blandin Foundation is being used to initiate and coordinate, along with many partners, this network of student success efforts in the state.   Early leaders in this work include the Greater Minnesota communities of Austin, the Itasca County area, Northfield, Red Wing and St. Cloud.  The movement will be fueled by gatherings and idea sharing among those mobilized toward cradle-to-career achievement in their communities.

“The best strategy for growing our greatest asset, human potential, is total community involvement and engagement,” said Dane Smith, president of Growth & Justice.  “We are inspired by the progress being made in the Itasca County area and elsewhere, and by growing consensus that true student achievement demands ‘everybody in.’”

Growth & Justice points to rural Minnesota’s growing diversity as one reason that student success is a statewide need.  For example, in 2040 most of Minnesota’s rural counties will have more than 10 percent people of color, and more than a dozen counties are projected to have between 20 and 50 percent people of color. 

“Although student success initiatives aim to close opportunity gaps for low-income students and students of color, the framework is focused on improving the performance of all students,” Smith said. “All children will do better when the entire community has a stake in birth-to-career improvements and supports post-secondary education and career readiness.”

 “Vibrant, resilient, healthy communities are possible because of hopeful local leaders like those the Itasca County area making ambitious choices,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, CEO of Blandin Foundation.  “Student success is, at the end of the day, about the health and prosperity of our communities.  Blandin Foundation knows from working with rural leaders for more than 70 years that leaders must do it themselves, but they can’t do it alone.  That’s why this movement being built across Minnesota holds such promise.  We are pleased to be able to stand with Minnesota community leaders, Growth & Justice, and the many partners involved in this work.”




Growth & Justice

Growth & Justice is a research and advocacy organization that develops innovative public policy proposals based on independent research and civic engagement. They believe when Minnesota makes smart investments in practical solutions it leads to broader prosperity for all.


For additional information, contact:

Dane Smith


O: 651-917-6037 ext. 1

M: 651-675-6360


Maureen Ramirez

Director of Policy & Research

O: 651-917-6037 ext. 2

M: 651-353-2387



Twitter: @GrowthandJust



Blandin Foundation

Located in Grand Rapids, Minn., Blandin Foundation is one of only a handful of foundations in the U.S. focused exclusively on rural communities and the largest rural-based private foundation in Minnesota.  The Foundation seeks and supports vibrant rural Minnesota communities.   


For additional information, contact:

Allison Rajala Ahcan

Director of Communications, Blandin Foundation

direct: 218-327-8717

cell: 218-259-2893



Twitter: @BlandinFound



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