Saturday, December 1, 2012

Strive Comes to Minneapolis and St. Cloud

  A Minneapolis group called Generation Next  has just announced a public-private coalition designed to foster a Strive-like initiative.    Learn more about Generation Next by clicking here.  With a bit less fanfare, the St. Cloud community has been working for over a year to develop its own strive-like initiative called "Partners for Student Success."     These efforts are part of a growing network of Strive initiatives which promote community based "cradle to career" civic infrastructure to support student success.  These initiatives are loosely based on Cincinnati's groundbreaking initiative called  "Strive Together".  

Minneapolis's Generation Next
aspires to foster a community wide commitment to "closing the achievement gap among Twin Cities’ low-income students and students of color..... an unprecedented partnership of key education, community, government and business stakeholders dedicated to accelerating educational  achievement for all of our children – from early childhood through early career."  St. Cloud's Partners for Student Success  "unites Central Minnesota parents, businesses, community organizations, and the St. Cloud Area Public Schools to support student success."  

The Strive idea is coming to Minnesota.

The first Strive network,  Cincnnati Strive Together is a regional network that strives to assure that all children in the Cincinnati region are successful "from cradle to career."   The thrust of the initiative is to marshal community assets in a coordinated way.  The assets are families, faith communities, non-profits, public and parochial schools, seniors, the business community, technical colleges and universities.  The phrase cradle to career, doesn't mean that the government takes over the rearing of children, or that family responsibilities become government responsibilities.  On the contrary, the idea of success "from cradle to career" is to use existing resources, public and private, more wisely, with more accountability, targeted to clear measurable objectives.

Across the country, a variety of urban regions are adopting the strive model for reviving, restoring, and preserving their most precious resource -- the next generation.  Cincinnati Strive Together writes:

Education is perhaps the most important engine of economic growth and individual financial gain, and there is little doubt that our success in growing a stronger economy and lifting incomes will depend on getting better results in education, cradle to career.  To achieve these results, for every child, every step of the way, from cradle to career Greater Cincinnati leaders at all levels of the education, nonprofit, community, civic, and philanthropic sectors are working together as part of the Strive Partnership to tackle some of our most pressing challenges, and to take advantage of some of our biggest opportunities.
As such, the Strive Partnership serves as a catalyst for working together, across sectors, and along the educational continuum, to drive better results in education, so that every child is Prepared for school, Supported inside and outside of school, Succeeds in school, Enrolls in some form of postsecondary education and Graduates and enters a career. 

The Portland area has adopted the Strive model as well.  "A broad coalition is coming together across Portland and Multnomah County to create an accountability framework known as cradle to career. Portland State University is leading the effort with the Leaders Roundtable, cabinet members of Mayor Sam Adams and County Commission Chair Jeff Cogen and others to replicate an approach first developed in Cincinnati.  Portland Strive's first Commmunity Report, issued in November of 2010 explains:

A community with high levels of educational attainment provides far-reaching social, cultural, and economic benefits. Evidence is clear that a better-educated population reduces unemployment, crime, welfare dependence, and the need for costly interventions and incarceration. Educational success also contributes to quality-of-life advantages such as the arts, civic engagement, and vibrant urban neighborhoods. Some of these benefits can be quantified by dollars. For example, increasing the number of individuals who earn a two-year or four-year degree by age 24 by 1 percent is estimated to boost thelocal economy by $1.6 billion annually.

The Community Report continues:
We have come together to develop a comprehensive and data-driven strategy to analyze both our educational and our social/community indicators so that all students can succeed. We are laying important groundwork so that decision making by parents, educators, government policy makers, business leaders, and others can be based on evidence. Data and analysis help leaders support programs and practices that work and help them reject those that don’t.
In Cincinnatti, community leaders came together to form an executive leadership team, representing university, non-profits, government, business, and K-12  education.   They agreed to focus on three key student success indicators and to prod all elements of the community to work to lend their efforts to improve performance in those areas.

Cinncinnati had a very strong parochial school system that prided itself in delivering quality education to minority students.  Partly as a result of its traditional commitment to minority education, the Catholic diocese joined with the Strive effort building on over two decades of support for improving educational results in the community. At one time, parochial schools in southern Ohio had been regarded more as an escape from school integration.  But Archbishop Joseph L. Bernedin believed that Catholic education must be a part of the effort to end the cycle of poverty in Cincinnati.  He argued that the cycle of poverty could only be broken through education and made it his mission to help children coming from disadvantaged households.   In Cinncinnati, Catholic education is an integral and formal part of the community initiative. 

Strive initiatives involve the entire community in a concerted coordinated effort to support the success of young people.  They are ambitious projects.  To be successful, they will require resilience, persistence, and active involvement of community leadership.  


  1. Jerry,
    I saw a presentation in Cincinnati related to STRIVE and it was impressive. I am hopeful that Generation Next attempts to engage in a similar outworking of STRIVE, but I am nervous about it. The business community here in MN, as exemplified in the political work of the MN Chamber of Commerce, has had little care to DO anything in education outside of pontificating on a very narrow education reform agenda. That said, I am anxiously awaiting to see if Generation Next actually DOES anything outside of recreating the wheel by defining really general education goals that it can use to beat up the public schools with via a "see, you are not reaching these goals" kind of language without fully embracing the central idea of Cincinnati that "education is the responsibility of us all."

    It is one thing for these high profile leaders to pontificate. It is another thing for them to support real change by bringing resources to the table and rethinking how they do business in our communities alongside and with public schools.

    There is always hope.

  2. How is education in the United States different from education in other countries? Which country's education system do you like best?

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