Guest blog post by Sarah Clarke, director of government affairs at Hylden Advocacy & Law. Photo above: Rep. Rena Moran, holding microphone, speaks on a panel with Northside Achievement Zone and Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood parents.
When communities work together at a state level, they can get powerful results for kids and families. Recent policy work in Minnesota demonstrated this effect with a win for education.
Minnesota began the 2019 state legislative session with the only divided government in the nation — with a Democratic governor, Tim Walz, and a House of Representatives with a Democratic majority alongside a Senate controlled by Republicans. The focus of the session was to pass the nearly $50 billion state budget, determining what funding would be available for education, human services and more.
Ensuring children and families can succeed is not a partisan issue. This goal is shared across Minnesota by members of the Education Partnerships Coalition, collective impact organizations that include six members of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network and two members of the Promise Neighborhood Institute. The group is supported by a grant from StriveTogether’s Cradle to Career Community Challenge.
With a mission to eliminate some of the nation’s worst opportunity gaps, the Education Partnerships Coalition sought state funding to provide deeper support to more families across Minnesota. The EPC’s bill (House File 1056/Senate File 939) added additional rigor and requirements to the EPC’s existing state statute (124D.99) in addition to funding for Coalition members and planning grants to expand collective impact to new communities.
Throughout the legislative session, the Education Partnership Coalition supported parents to share their experiences and advocate for their families and communities. During the House and Senate committee hearings, legislators heard parents, students and school officials share why the StriveTogether framework is a key solution to eliminating educational disparities and enabling children and parents to thrive.
After a contentious special session, the Education Partnership Coalition was successful in passing its legislation and securing nearly $3 million in new state appropriations, in addition to $5.2 million in existing base funding. This marks an increase of $1.54 million from the state for this work over the next two years. In addition to legislative leadership, this victory is a result of powerful parent advocacy.
The Education Partnerships Coalition is made up of collective impact organizations from across Minnesota, including six members of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network: Austin Aspires, Generation Next in the Twin Cities, Every Hand Joined in Red Wing, Northfield Promise, Partner for Student Success in the St. Cloud area, and Cradle to Career in Rochester. The other Coalition members — Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood and the Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis — are members of the Promise Neighborhood Institute.
Sarah Clarke is director of government affairs at Hylden Advocacy & Law. She is project manager for the Education Partnerships Coalition.