Make North Mpls college-ready

A new initiative would provide early literacy support to the neighborhood.

Daily Editorial Board


Through an initiative in North Minneapolis that focuses on early learning, a number of organizations are preparing kids for school with the goal of making them college-ready by the time they graduate. The Northside Achievement Zone encompasses a dense concentration of poor black families where only three of 10 children finish high school, according to Minnpost. Research shows that early language and literacy development sets kids on the path to success.

NAZ brings together parents, researchers and educators to help kids born inside “the zone” (an 18-by-13-square-block radius) become successful learners. In December, it was awarded a $28 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education.

One of those partners is the University of Minnesota’s Center for Early Education Development.  CEED has worked to design and implement an evaluation system for the initiative to measure progress.

This initiative and the University’s involvement offers a great example for the kind of community involvement the University should have. Offering expertise, supporting underserved communities and pushing for a more educated group of Minnesotans fulfills the University’s role as a land-grant research institution.

As the University looks to make its case to the Legislature for its worth to the state economy, this should be at the top of the list. Before Minnesota children ever think of college — whether they’ll stay in the state, go to a technical school or pursue a STEM degree — they have to graduate high school.

The more the University can offer support, research and involvement in the development and learning that takes place before students apply here, the better off the state will be.