First-of-its-kind tool provides parents with guidance on choosing the best-fit school, featuring 139 school profiles and 29 changing-the-odds schools.

MN Comeback and Great MN Schools – sister organizations building a community of great schools – today launched ‘Minneapolis School Finder.’ This resource guide for parents provides objective, relevant information on schools across Minneapolis so parents can find schools that are the best fit for their kids.

“The status quo has shielded our most vulnerable families from information on schools for years, especially when it comes to academics. There are many people, even some in our own community, who protest that these parents – of color, most in-need – don’t care about their child’s education or don’t engage in it,” said Rashad Turner, director of community engagement for MN Comeback.

“We’ve heard the call from parents, and we’re here to disrupt false narratives and support parent agency and leadership in education,” continued Turner. “I’ve yet to meet a parent who doesn’t want their child to access a great school and thrive in life.”

MN Comeback, which organizes strategies and resources with the broader K-12 ecosystem, is addressing one of the highest-impact levers to transform K-12: Parent demand for more great schools. The nonprofit organization has convened and listened to several hundred parents in various formats over two years. Minneapolis School Finder responds to an explicit need that parents cite:  Comprehensive information on schools, from programs and academics to hours and demographics.

“I was nervous about enrolling my child in a school in Minneapolis,” said parent Ericka Trevino. “For my family, choosing a school surfaces feelings of anxiety and uncertainty because we’ve never had easy access to reliable information on schools. Then, when I looked at this guide, I discovered great options in our city and I’m now confident that we can find a school that works well for us.”

Minneapolis School Finder features:

  • Tips for choosing a school
  • Questions to ask when touring schools
  • Application and enrollment guidance
  • A list of schools closing the opportunity gap
  • 139 school profiles (district, charter and independent)

School profiles include features unique to each school, student and teacher demographics, and Minnesota Department of Education data on academic performance. To address parents’ need for context on academic data, profiles include an academic rating – determined by three years of proficiency and growth results – so parents can see which schools are consistently delivering academic results for the kids they serve. The front-end guidance for parents is also available in Hmong, Spanish and Somali.

“MN Comeback and Great MN Schools started with the idea that we – schools, advocates, parents, funders – can accomplish more together than we can independently,” said parent Iris Altamirano. “That’s exactly what we see today with Minneapolis School Finder. An ‘information gap’ stifles too many of our families’ voices and decisions. This parent tool honors all parents as advocates. The next step: Give us more platforms to amplify our voices. We’re part of the solution.”

The Community Engagement Team at MN Comeback – comprised of representatives from all types of schools and nonprofit groups – identified Minneapolis School Finder as a critical tool to build parent agency and leadership. It also builds off of initiatives to understand how schools and advocates can better meet parent needs, from Design Thinking conversations to AmeriCorps-organized meet-ups.

The following organizations lent their insights and time, making Minneapolis School Finder possible:

  • African American Leadership Forum
  • African Immigrant Services
  • Children’s Defense Fund – MN
  • Ed Allies
  • Way to Grow
  • The MN Harvest Initiative
  • NewPublica
  • MN Independent School Forum
  • Northside Funders Group
  • Pillsbury United Communities
  • Northside Achievement Zone
  • Coalition of Somali American Leaders
  • Students for Education Reform – MN

Schools closing the opportunity gap

By highlighting schools that are changing-the-odds for students most in-need, Minneapolis School Finder intersects with the work of Great MN Schools, a new nonprofit organization that makes strategic investments in proven and promising schools. The following schools have demonstrated an ability to deliver a quality education for students most in-need. For list criteria, see page 14 of Minneapolis School Finder.

  • Anthony Middle School
  • Bright Water Elementary
  • Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
  • Dowling School
  • Edison High School
  • Fair Senior High
  • Friendship Academy of the Arts
  • Hennepin Elementary School
  • Hiawatha College Prep
  • Hiawatha Community – Howe Campus
  • Hiawatha Leadership Academy – Morris Park
  • Hope Academy
  • KIPP North Star Academy
  • Lake Nokomis Community School – Keewaydin Campus
  • Lyndale Community School
  • Marcy Open Elementary
  • New Millennium Academy
  • Pratt Community School
  • Ramsey Middle School
  • Sanford Middle School
  • Seward Montessori School
  • South High School
  • Southside Family Charter School
  • St. Helena Catholic School
  • Twin Cities International Elementary School
  • Ubah Medical Academy
  • Waite Park Community School
  • Washburn High School
  • Windom Dual Immersion School

“While Minneapolis still ranks at the very bottom nationwide for academic success for students of color, great schools right here in our community are helping all students, from every neighborhood and every background, realize their extraordinary potential,” added Jennifer Stern, CEO of Great MN Schools. “Working with parents, we need to build on what’s already working.”

Access Minneapolis School Finder

MN Comeback and community organizations are hosting two parent workshops – March 18 and 25, 2017 – to provide parents with the opportunity to engage with this guide and each other. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/2mKGMl7. Parents can access the guide at www.MinneapolisSchoolFinder.org; hard copies are available by request: (612) 643-1305 /info@MinneapolisSchoolFinder.org.

Request for proposals: Parent agency and leadership in education

To further support parent agency and leadership, the Community Engagement Team launched its first RFP this month: ‘Education Community Engagement Initiatives & Ecosystem Development.’ Organizations, schools and groups of parents can submit proposals through March 31, 2017.