Education reform's "Great Differentiator"

Two African American elementary school girls smile as they play bingo in a school hallway

From our June 2017 MNSights E-newsletter

A Chinese proverb translates as, "Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere." Minnesota is a high-performing state academically, but it plays host to some of the nation's highest achievement gaps between white students and students of color and between low-income students and their more affluent peers. 
 
Two steps forward. One step backward.
 
If two children complete kindergarten on equal par, and one has an enriching summer complete with instructive activities while the other does not, the student with no summer enrichment enters the first grade having experienced learning loss. This cycle repeats and at the culmination of 12 years of education, one student may have acquired a three-and-a-half-year academic achievement and capacity learning loss deficiency, further widening the achievement gap.
 
But, there is hope. Out-of-school time activity is one great differentiator in education reform and an important component of closing the achievement gap.
 
At The Saint Paul and Minnesota Community Foundations, we believe that direct impact is key. By funding through our direct impact initiatives, as well as the funding we provide to community organizations, we can strengthen the quality of summer experiences for youth. Programs we have supported, such as The Sanneh Foundation and their work at the Conway Community Center, give students the opportunity to supplement their learning over the course of the summer.
 
Engaging in enriching summer activities is a highly effective, high-return-on-investment way to help address the achievement gap. In order for our students to succeed, we have to create strong interfaces between school and community and integrate in-school experiences with out-of-school and after-school programs.
 
Above all, we must engage our entire community to promote the success of each student.

- Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., President and CEO, The Saint Paul and Minnesota Community Foundations

Portrait photo of President and CEO Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D.

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