Antonio started second grade at the Hiawatha Leadership Academy in Minneapolis lacking basic, pre-school level skills. He was already so far behind, and if he had continued on the same path, the gap between his grade level and skill level would have only increased over the next few years. By the time Antonio entered middle school, his future would have looked grim. Statistically, it would have been unlikely for him to graduate from high school or attend college.
But Antonio took a different path. His second grade teacher, Renee Hendrickson (Twin Cities Corps '10), set high expectations for Antonio's studies and worked relentlessly with him to improve his skills. By the end of the school year, Antonio was reading on a third grade level: in one year, he had closed the gap between his skill level and his grade level. At a school like Hiawatha Leadership Academy, recently named the #2 school in Minnesota under the state’s new accountability system, and #1 for schools that receive Title I funding, Antonio had a shot—something we need to replicate in schools across the region.
Most people don't associate Minnesota with massive educational inequity, but in 2009, students from low-income communities in our state ranked 49th in math and 46th in reading out of 50 states when compared to students from middle- and high-income backgrounds.
Our vision is that by 2020, we can ensure 15,000 more low-income students in Minneapolis are in transformational classrooms that will prepare them for a path of expanded opportunities. We know the critical ingredient is leadership—in classrooms, at great schools, at the school district level, and as citizens and policy makers shaping the public discussion.
Our 90 corps members and more than 300 alumni are among those leading transformational classrooms and schools, as well as other nonprofit and community organizations. They are committed to partnering effectively with families, schools, and communities to ensure that our work advances the broader good for all children.