This past Tuesday, Nov. 12, I attended the AchieveMpls 11th Annual Education Partners Luncheon in Minneapolis. The Depot was packed with so many great thought leaders, including Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, former Minneapolis Mayor Don Fraser and Minneapolis Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges, as well as AchieveMpls CEO and President Pam Costain and Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson–many of whom gave insightful remarks.

It all started with an exciting performance by the Patrick Henry High School Elite Step Team—it reminded me of the great student talent that can be found in Minnesota schools. Another profile of student success was on display during Lisa Dhanesri’s, an Edison High School senior, presentation about her experience with the STEP-UP Achieve jobs program. She told us about her time as an intern with Robins, Kaplan, Miller, and Ciresi L.L.P., and how her career and educational paths have benefitted from the STEP-UP Achieve program and the AchieveMpls Career & College Centers. These programs are effective and meaningful for our kids.

Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak remarked on the speed with which we responded to the 35W bridge collapse and the Northside tornado and posited that we react with the same urgency in addressing the “crisis” of the achievement gap. One moment that really stuck with me was when—while talking about improving education for all students—he asked if “we have an even deeper well to dig into.”

The keynote speaker for the luncheon, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, commended AchieveMpls and the Northside Achievement Zone on that work that they’re doing. Mayor Castro talked about his own educational history and how education allotted him more career opportunities than his parents. He detailed “SA 2020,” San Antonio’s collective vision for how the city will look in the year 2020. The four elements of SA 2020: 1. Set a vision, 2. Align community efforts, 3. Engage residents to be a part of making SA 2020 possible, and 4. Hold themselves accountable. You may wonder why the mayor of San Antonio would be invited to speak about education in Minneapolis and Mayor Castro explained it best: “Cities like San Antonio and Minneapolis are a look at what America will look like…If we can get it right in Minneapolis and San Antonio, then we can get it right anywhere.”


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