June 29 2020

MPS, AchieveMpls and Cargill partner to help close opportunity gaps by boosting STEM education, career and college readiness

A new $4 million, three-year Cargill Foundation grant will support Minneapolis Public Schools STEM programs and AchieveMpls high school career and college readiness programs

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In a city with some of the country’s widest opportunity gaps by race in education, employment, wages and housing, local partners are coming together to support programs and strategies that prepare young people to succeed in college, careers and life, thereby building a more equitable community. 

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) and AchieveMpls, in partnership with The Cargill Foundation, today announced a major three-year investment of $4 million to support MPS Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) and Guys in Science and Engineering (GISE); the new MPS Stem for All program; and AchieveMpls Career & College Centers in 11 MPS high schools. The grant will provide critical support for student academic success and career and college initiatives through 2022.

The Cargill Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the global agriculture, food and nutrition company, is the largest funder for MPS, providing more than $20 million in grants over the past decade. With a longstanding commitment to advancing racial equity, The Cargill Foundation’s mission to eliminate the opportunity gap for low income children of color in the Twin Cities remains unchanged. Nearly 80% of The Cargill Foundation’s annual $10 million contribution supports low income children and families of color in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

“At Cargill, we strive to advance racial equity, and we believe in preparing and inspiring children for post-secondary education, careers and beyond,” said Michelle Grogg, Vice President for Global Corporate Responsibility at Cargill and Executive Director of The Cargill Foundation. “Through partnerships with organizations like Minneapolis Public Schools and AchieveMpls, The Cargill Foundation is dedicated to creating a strong educational bedrock for low income youth of color in our Twin Cities headquarters community. Increasing access to STEM education and college and career readiness is one key step to closing the opportunity gap for our low income children of color.”

This new three-year investment will provide support for the following programs:

  • Girls in Engineering, Math and Science (GEMS) and Guys in Science and Engineering (GISE) programs. These after-school and summer programs for grades K-8 offer engaging STEM opportunities for MPS students early in their educational experience. GEMS and GISE provides opportunities to break down perceived barriers to success around math and science skills and increase access to STEM programing for girls, students of color and other underrepresented students. 
  • STEM for All. STEM for All is an initiative to fundamentally shift how MPS provides STEM education and help achieve the district’s strategic goal of eliminating obstacles that prevent all students from receiving equitable access to STEM programming and opportunities. It will strengthen STEM teaching through rigorous, standards-focused professional development for educators; expand access to STEM courses, prioritizing K-8 students; address institutional bias; and expand STEM opportunities for underrepresented students, particularly girls and students of color. 
  • AchieveMpls Career and College Readiness Programs. AchieveMpls Career & College Centers in 11 MPS high schools serve as campus hubs for comprehensive career and postsecondary planning and personalized guidance for over 15,000 students each year. In 2018, seniors from low-income families who used these programs were three times more likely to enroll in college than those who did not. AchieveMpls is a regional and national leader in career and college readiness strategies and programs for underrepresented students.  

In addition to this $4 million grant to help close opportunity and equity gaps, Cargill is also making an additional investment of $50,000 in the new MPS Student Support Fund, which was created in response to the community’s overwhelming desire to support young people and their families following the senseless murder of George Floyd and the protests and unrest that impacted our communities. This new fund is designed to provide more immediate resources that address the well-being of MPS students and families, including basic needs support, counseling, school safety resources, restorative practices training, and many other initiatives that strengthen school communities.

“More than ever before, we see the importance of opening doors of opportunity for our students – especially those who have been historically underserved,” said Ed Graff, MPS Superintendent. “Support from partners like AchieveMpls and Cargill increases our ability to provide the well-rounded education our students deserve. Through our combined efforts, we are taking real steps to increase educational equity and decrease opportunity gaps.”

“As one of the district’s strongest partners, Cargill is helping MPS achieve its strategic goals of academic excellence and career and college readiness for all students,” said AchieveMpls President and CEO Danielle Grant. “AchieveMpls is honored to facilitate this collaboration and will use this generous support to ensure that each and every student has the guidance and resources they need to access high-demand, living-wage careers. Cargill’s partnership is absolutely critical in addressing our city’s wide opportunity gaps, and is integral not only to the lives and long-term financial independence of our students, but also the health and vitality of our community.” 

For more information, contact Jane Austin at info@achievempls.org or the Cargill media team at media@cargill.com.  

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About Minneapolis Public Schools
In the heart of Minneapolis lies a diverse, urban school district committed to promoting learning and accelerating student outcomes for more than 35,000 students in over 70 schools. Every day, nearly 7,300 devoted staff members help students prepare to graduate college and career ready. Visit our website at www.mpls.k12.mn.us.

About AchieveMpls
As the strategic nonprofit partner of Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), we rally community support to inspire and equip students for careers, college and life. Our vision is that all young people have full access to educational and career opportunities, resulting in a more equitable and vibrant community. We manage Career & College Centers in 11 MPS and four Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) high schools, collaborate with our partners to train and place Minneapolis youth in paid internships through the Step Up Youth Employment Program, engage hundreds of volunteers as career exploration volunteers, raise support for MPS strategic priorities, and administer MPS school funds and scholarships. Learn more at www.achievempls.org.

About Cargill
Cargill’s 160,000 employees across 70 countries work relentlessly to achieve our purpose of nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. Every day, we connect farmers with markets, customers with ingredients, and people and animals with the food they need to thrive. We combine 154 years of experience with new technologies and insights to serve as a trusted partner for food, agriculture, financial and industrial customers in more than 125 countries. Side-by-side, we are building a stronger, sustainable future for agriculture.