New Partnership Seeks to Close Twin Cities' Student Education Achievement Gap

Generation Next Partnership will launch at University of Minnesota event on Nov. 29

MINNEAPOLIS--()--The Minneapolis/St. Paul region has one of the widest student education achievement gaps in the nation, with unacceptably low graduation rates among children of color and children from low-income households. To address this crisis, a group of Twin Cities leaders from government, education, community and business have formed the Generation Next Partnership, an unprecedented collaboration in the region.

“Although the Partnership is more about effective use of existing resources, we are thrilled to have these funds to serve as a catalyst to jump start the Partnership’s efforts”

The group’s executive director, Michael Goar, will be formally introduced to the Twin Cities community at tonight’s event launching this public-private partnership. Goar is relocating to Minneapolis from Boston, where he was deputy superintendent and chief operations officer of Boston Public Schools. Goar, who is originally from Minneapolis, also has held leadership roles in the Memphis and Minneapolis public school districts.

“This is not just another standalone program to fix education,” said Goar. “With Generation Next, we finally have the advantage of critical mass: a cohesive group of committed leaders from across the community, working together for the achievement of all students by focusing on best practices that get results.”

Generation Next was inspired by the Cincinnati Strive Partnership, which has been replicated in several communities, including Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Houston and Milwaukee. The Strive Partnership unites stakeholders around educational issues, goals, measurements and results, and then actively supports and strengthens strategies that work.

The Twin Cities partnership started with the African American Leadership Forum and the University of Minnesota, which both identified the Strive model as a potential way to systemically improve student achievement. They jointly sponsored community discussions, engaging a broad cross section of educational, philanthropic, community and business stakeholders, which culminated with tonight’s formal launch of Generation Next.

“The Generation Next Partnership will create a shared community vision to identify and implement the most successful practices in closing achievement gaps,” said Kim Nelson, who is senior vice president of external relations at General Mills and president of the General Mills Foundation. She co-chairs the Generation Next Leadership Council with University of Minnesota President Dr. Eric Kaler.

Generation Next is based on a holistic cradle-to-career framework for change. This framework focuses on the full educational continuum – including critical transition points – to ensure the developmental progress of students.

Generation Next will seek to align strategies and resources around five key goals, ensuring that every student in Minneapolis and St. Paul has an equal opportunity to:

  • Enter kindergarten ready to succeed.
  • Achieve third-grade reading benchmarks.
  • Achieve eighth-grade math benchmarks.
  • Graduate on time from high school.
  • Obtain a post-secondary degree or certificate within six years of graduation.

The Partnership will form networks of education experts and providers to advance these goals. The networks will identify high-impact programs, determine the benchmarks and metrics to measure success, and create a continuous improvement model.

Launch Event

The Generation Next launch event will be held tonight from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the University of Minnesota’s McNamara Alumni Center. Partnership co-chairs Kaler and Nelson – along with other Twin Cities education, business and community leaders – will introduce the new organization to the community. The event will feature an appearance by Breaking Ice, a Twin Cities acting troupe, who will dramatize the changes needed to narrow the achievement gap.

Greater Twin Cities United Way is serving as the anchor organization housing the Generation Next initiative and providing it with start-up support. The Wilder Foundation is providing expertise and support around data and measurement. The Minnesota Minority Education Partnership will provide community engagement support.

In addition, Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, will formally announce that the Generation Next Partnership will be awarded a $2 million federal grant over two years from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). These SIF funds will be matched by local organizations creating a $4 million pool, and granted to community programs that support the Generation Next goals.

“Although the Partnership is more about effective use of existing resources, we are thrilled to have these funds to serve as a catalyst to jump start the Partnership’s efforts,” said Goar.

Learn more about Generation Next at: (website live at noon, Nov. 29)

About the Generation Next Partnership

The mission of Generation Next Partnership is to dramatically accelerate the educational achievement of all children from early childhood through early career, through an aligned partnership of community stakeholders in the Twin Cities region. By identifying and adopting best practices, Generation Next will help to ensure a more successful and prosperous future for the entire community.


For Generation Next Partnership
Tracy Carlson, 612-455-1717
Padilla Speer Beardsley
612-232-6578 mobile
Laudan Fenster, 612-455-1746
Padilla Speer Beardsley
651-216-9827 mobile
Generation Next Partnership
Michael Goar, 612-343-6050
617-756-4690 mobile