By Carlos Mariani Rosa
2020 brought our nation and state the greatest challenges in modern times. A dangerous global pandemic alters the conventional way in which schools and colleges provide learning opportunities from an in-person classroom delivery model to a distance, virtual platform approach.
At MnEEP, we believe schools should be places of hope and healing, where the humanity of every student is celebrated and uplifted.
But to get there, we must work together to fundamentally transform the historical systems, structures, and culture of racism that continue to disenfranchise students of color and American Indian students in Minnesota.
MnEEP’s mission is to transform systems, structures, and public narratives to advance race equity and excellence in education.
We envision a racially just society in which each student achieves their full potential.
Led by People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) thought leaders and experts, MnEEP uses a race equity lens to develop and advance networks, practices, research, and policies to dismantle racism in education and build a more just, equitable society.
U.S. education is designed to uphold racism. We must create change now—beginning within ourselves. We must work collectively to undo historical systems and structures of racism in our institutions and our communities.
Working towards racial justice requires solidarity and accountability— and an ongoing commitment to the process of unlearning and dismantling racism in education and honoring the lived experiences of our students of color and American Indian students every day.
Together, we can demystify the conditions holding structural, institutional, and systemic racism in place. We can create new racially just systems where the human dignity of all people is valued and uplifted. And we can galvanize coalitions and movements and build a more racially just Minnesota where POCI students have the liberation and power to build the future they deserve.
MnEEP’s multi-racial staff equips educators, schools, and districts with essential tools and knowledge to address and dismantle racist practices in education and build reparative, racially just learning environments where every student has the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
We work with districts and educators to advance original research, community-led convenings, network-building, and advocacy to build justice and fairness for Minnesota’s POCI students—and to ensure educators and school leaders are equipped with the tools and knowledge necessary to create healing, empowering education spaces that support the full development of every student.
Advancing essential anti-racist education policies in the places and in the processes where key decisions are made.
Developing and advancing practices that promote race equity and educational excellence in all education settings.
Leading research initiatives and policy analysis to develop, advance, and distribute the wisdom and knowledge from racially diverse and culturally inclusive perspectives.
Building essential relationships and partnerships with communities, educational institutions, students and educators to advance race equity in education.
Developing collaborative, liberating, community-led envisioning engagements and organizing where people of color and American Indian communities can design and advance their plans for educational excellence.
Shifting the way people understand racism and race equity through professional development and advocacy campaigns that advance understanding, empathy, and racial justice.
Minnesota educational leaders and cultural communities create equitable education systems, structures, and public narratives.
In 2019-2020, MnEEP:
Provided race equity skill-building to district superintendents
The MnEEP Superintendent Race Equity Leadership Network gathered superintendents to build a strong network of school leaders focused on race equity skill development.
MnEEP is proud to partner with the Courageous Leadership Institute of Mankato State University to share best practice “will and skill-building” tactics around race equity leadership skills proven to build stronger, equitable, and more resilient school communities.
Provided race equity plan development for schools
MnEEP provided equity research and facilitation for Avalon Schools to develop equity-centered strategic vision, plan through Fall of 2019. The process involved engaging the full staff and leadership on key questions related to equity, mission, vision, and value statements.
Created online Town Hall Forums to respond to immediate student and community education challenges during the COVID pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic crisis shut down schools and colleges,MnEEP quickly pivoted to conducting virtual Town Halls in order to engage communities, students and educators on the new equity challenges posed by Distance Learning. MnEEP simimilarly engaged on the themes of “Black Lives Matter”in response to the murder of George Floyd.
Provided analysis of race equity for the State of Minnesota’s Distance Learning strategy and plans
MnEEP provided analysis on race equity in education as a part of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Distance Learning advisory taskforce and the Governor’s education roundtable. MnEEP co-created a race equity and Distance Learning coalition that actively highlighted racial equity concerns to state leadership and MDE.
Minnesota educational systems are designed to bring students of color and American Indian students into relationships with schools and teachers that promote their human dignity.
In 2019-2020, MnEEP:
Launched the MN School Climate Institute
MnEEP completed our first full session of the MN School Climate Institute in partnership with Hamline University providing technical assistance and coaching to assist school communities in implementing an equity-minded theory of change regarding discipline disparities in Minnesota schools.
The participants, across districts and networks, focused on understanding and using Critical Race Theory (CRT) analysis to assess current discipline policies and practices. The Institute had 50 registrants across five districts/school networks.
Developed the MnEEP Justice in Education Toolkit
At the beginning of 2020, MnEEP launched the Justice in Education Toolkit, a website designed to bring awareness to discipline disparities and disproportionality in special education designation and to provide tools and advocacy resources for parents, educators, advocates and students working to end punitive, expulsion-based student discipline and other practices in education that cause racial harm.
Developed School Climate Framework Tool for school districts
In partnership with Sankore Consulting and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) MnEEP established a School Climate Advisory Council to review and provide feedback on the school district reports submitted in conjunction with the MDHR Diversion Projects. In the absence of State initiative, the Council developed an Equity Based School Climate Framework to be used as a guide and evaluation tool for measuring school district success with change.
Prepared new leaders: School Climate Network (SCN)
MnEEP relaunched our School Climate Network as an initiative to focus on, and operationalize the policy recommendations from MnEEP’s Excluded policy brief on disability and racism. The Network is focused on providing a safe, liberating space for educators and advocates to grow, learn, share around racial equity in schools and classrooms.
The SCN focuses on awareness and advocacy for closing racial disparities on student discipline and special education designation.
Minnesota educational systems advance racially and culturally responsive teaching and learning environments for teachers and students.
In 2019-2020, MnEEP’s TeachMN20/20 Initiative:
Developed collaborations and held statewide convenings to strengthen the teaching profession including addressing teacher diversity
Strengthened the capacity of educators and systems statewide for race equity
Built powerful partnerships to lead teacher diversity
MnEEP worked with Generation Next and Education First in a Teacher Diversity Leadership Group, composed of teacher preparation program leaders and human resource leaders in the Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools, to hold online sessions to strategize individual and collective actions toward improved partnership in supporting teacher diversity efforts. One concrete plan forward is to demystify the hiring and onboarding process for teacher candidates of color with culturally accessible tools on MnEEP’s ImprintU.org site.
Minnesota educational leaders embrace the language and culture of each student, and value the home language of Black, Latino, Indigenous, and Asian students as vital for their academic success.
In 2019-2020, MnEEP:
Convened a bi-monthly Emerging Multilingual Learners (EML) Network to engage in collaborative conversations on how to best serve and support EMLs.
The conversations with EML advocates and leaders developed into gathering and sharing best practices across schools, districts, and systems throughout Minnesota and the nation. The collaborative conversations helped to build greater clarity around the need for a statewide policy advocacy agenda for EMLs centered on race equity and excellence in education.
Developed statewide policy agenda to serve English Learners and Students with Limited or Interrupted Formal Education (SLIFE)
The network developed a robust, statewide policy advocacy agenda, in partnership with communities, P-20 partners, and state agencies, to advance the prioritization of increasing funding and accountability for schools and districts who serve English Learners (ELs) throughout the state of Minnesota.
EML Network members from across Minnesota provided input, offered feedback, and developed a state legislative policy agenda that formed the core of MnEEP’s policy advocacy in BBG #4 for 2019-20.
Began development of an EML toolkit to support ELs, SLIFE, and EMLs
The MnEEP EML Toolkit will be used by educators, leaders of educators, and programs, advocates, and families of ELs, SLIFE learners, and EMLs. The toolkit will be an essential resource designed to advance multilingualism, promote an asset-based approach to native language learners, and result in greater academic success and advocacy for EMLs statewide.
The EML Toolkit will be launched in 2021.
Minnesota higher education systems are transformed to be racially just, responsive, and accessible for students of color and American Indian students.
In 2019-2020, the MnEEP Research Collaborative Table (RCT):
Collaborated with thought leaders to develop and advance racially equitable higher education policy
The RCT convened on a monthly basis to engage in collaborative conversations centered on the intersection of race equity and best practices in research, evaluation, and assessment across the state’s educational continuum for students Pre-K through college
Each RCT member provided key insights on the “MN Race Equity College Completion Project” funded by the Joyce Foundation . As a network, the RCT guided multiple projects in 2019-2020, forming the cornerstone of MnEEP’s research-based foundation for supporting, developing, and advancing racially equitable policy advocacy in higher education.
Researched and published “Reducing Racial Disparities in College Completion: The Case for an Equitable Higher Education Financial Aid System in Minnesota”
The MnEEP policy brief used a race equity lens to discover new ways to transform Minnesota’s statewide higher education systems to better serve and support POCI students to complete college with a degree.
The Brief powerfully makes the case for transforming the Minnesota State Grant Student Aid program through a series of specific recommendations targeting the delivery of a) equitable financial aid resources, b) counseling services, and c) workforce-related support to POCI students seeking to complete college with the attainment of a degree.
Created the MnEEP College Race Equity Advocacy Advisory Council (CREAAC) to drive a statewide, race equity policy advocacy agenda.
Focused on the power of collective action, the CREAAC includes systems, institutional, and community leaders from across the PreK-20 spectrum to advance the MnEEP policy advocacy agenda centered on the equitable treatment of POCI in higher education into the 2021 Minnesota Legislative Session.
Associate Executive Director
Program Director, Race Equity and Excellence in Education Network
Senior Policy Fellow, TeachMN20/20 Initiative
School Climate Consultant, Sankore Consulting
Superintendent Race Equity Network Consultant
Communications Project Coordinator
Steve Paprocki and Jo Seton
Good Work Group
Design For The Arts
Abstract Pigeon Design
Chair; Director Office of Financial Empowerment
Dr. Bernadeia Johnson
Vice-Chair; Faculty Minnesota State University Mankato
Dr. Rev PM Crowley Hillstrom
At Large; Director of Educational Equity, Osseo Area Schools
At Large; University of Minnesota
Treasurer; Community Member, St. Paul
Secretary; Community Member, Greater Minnesota
Bryan E. Bass EdD
President, DeLaSalle High School
Achievement & Integration Lead Specialist, Eastern County Schools
Lee Carlson, MA
Community Member, Southwest State University
Stephanie Crosby, MEd, MSW
Executive Director of Human Resources, Robbinsdale Area Schools
Director, Minneapolis Board of Education
Danielle Grant, MPA
President & CEO, Achieve Minneapolis
Director of Community Initiative, Minnesota Private College Council
Assistant Chief Diversity Officer, Minnesota State
Below are partner organizations who have expressed interest in participating in the Impact Strategy Map Collaborative. Partner organizations use a disciplined structure of Objectives- Measures-Targets-Actions to measure individual and collective program outcomes using a cloud-based platform called InsightVision.