Minnesota Businesses Step up to Help Minneapolis Schools and Students


October 14, 2014

Minneapolis, Minn. (October 7, 2014) — The Minnesota Business Partnership today announced a new initiative to help effective public charter schools in Minneapolis expand and serve more students. By many measures, Minneapolis is one of the lowest performing school districts in the nation, with just a fifty-four percent high school graduation rate, and only around a quarter of low-income students performing at grade level in reading and math.

If thousands of students continue to struggle in the state’s largest city, the economic consequences will be severe, because 70 percent of all jobs in Minnesota will require some level of higher education by 2018. Charlie Weaver, executive director of the Business Partnership, said, “What’s happening in Minneapolis is everyone’s problem. If we don’t fix it, the great companies that sustain Minnesota’s economy won’t have enough qualified workers to meet their needs.”

Fortunately, a handful of Minneapolis schools are beating the odds and exceeding expectations. Despite having high percentages of low-income students, schools like Hiawatha Academies and Harvest Network have test scores that are superior not only to Minneapolis averages, but statewide averages. Pat Ryan, CEO and President of Ryan Companies and chair of the Business Partnership’s education policy committee, said, “These schools prove that all kids can succeed if they have a strong and supportive learning environment. Increasing access to these schools so they can serve more students is the most effective way to turn the tide in Minneapolis.”

To combat the academic crisis in Minneapolis, fifteen Business Partnership member companies are helping effective public charter schools improve and expand their operations. Some companies are providing operational assistance, including marketing, professional development, literacy support, and nutrition assistance. In addition, other companies are working with the Nonprofits Assistance Fund to provide financial backing for expansion projects. The participating businesses include Cargill, Coldspring, Deloitte, Ecolab, IBM, IWCO Direct, Hubbard Broadcasting, Polaris, PwC, Red Wing Shoes, Ryan Companies, Target, US Bank, Wells Fargo, and Xcel Energy.

About the Minnesota Business Partnership

Comprised of the chief executives of more than 100 of Minnesota’s largest employers, the Minnesota Business Partnership works to maintain a high quality of life for all Minnesotans by ensuring that the state’s economy remains strong and globally competitive, with bright prospects for growth.

Contact:  Jim Bartholomew – jim.bartholomew@mnbp.com; 612-370-0840