What do the students of North Minneapolis need to thrive in school? Let’s ask them, and then follow their advice.

This, in a nutshell, is our approach to funding education in North Minneapolis.  It is built on a firm belief that students have deep and largely untapped wisdom about how school could better help them thrive.  It is also grounded in the conviction that by amplifying student voice in the design of education we can enhance motivation, engagement and ultimately post-secondary success.

We know that our focus on student voice and student-centered learning runs counter to the main ways that schools and districts set and implement policies.  The present reality of school is shaped much more by factors such as standardized testing, busing logistics, the design of school buildings, traditional teacher training, and the Carnegie Unit system (look it up) than by the ideas, preferences and even academic success of students.

We’re also not naïve about the complexity and inertia of our education system.  We understand that some aspects of K-12 education may need to evolve through research, advocacy, and policy change.  

We’ve also come to know inspired educators and students who are innovating within the current system and showing us what it might become.  Teachers are co-designing curriculum with students, schools are seeking to adopt high quality project-based learning on a broad scale, and students are speaking up about the changes they want to see in their schools.

The Work We’re Supporting

Patrick Henry High School

In June, 2018 the Foundation awarded a 3-year grant of up to $1,015,872 to enable Patrick Henry High School to launch a social justice oriented project-based learning academy. The Community Connected Academy provides an innovative culturally relevant curriculum option to students who will benefit from real world experiential learning.  CCA currently serves juniors and seniors, and is adding a grade each year. When fully enrolled, this school-within-a-school will serve upwards of 250 student.

Olson Middle School

Olson Middle School is using a 3-year grant of up to $911,040 to implement its “My Story/My Brilliance” project.  This school-wide initiative combines student journaling, personalized instruction, and additional counseling resources to create a customized and supportive learning pathway through middle school.

Franklin Middle School

Franklin Middle School received $75,000 to further develop its student leadership program, and to continue coaching teachers on culturally-responsive and affirming instruction.

Parents Radically Organized (PROs)

This start-up organization aims to support parents as they navigate the education system, and as they organize to improve it.

What We’re Interested In


Our intent is to discover and fund even more ambitious examples of exceptional, student-centered education, along with the systems changes needed for more engaging and relevant learning opportunities to proliferate throughout North Minneapolis.  And, we remain committed to ensuring that students are positioned as co-designers of all of these efforts.

One way we will honor that intention is to work with a panel of Northside Education Advisors – many of whom are current or former students – to help us set strategy and review future proposals.  The Foundation is currently working with these Advisors to develop a new education funding opportunity related to family engagement and is in the middle of the first round of funding.

So, if you have big ideas about helping students thrive in North Minneapolis, we want to talk to you!  Contact Joel Luedtke, Program Director, to share your thoughts.