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.  

Over the past year 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.

Some Early Efforts We’ve Supported


PYC Arts and Tech High School

$11,221 to pilot a project to hire students as curriculum designers who partner with a teacher to redesign a course and track the impact on student engagement and credits earned.

Patrick Henry High School

$19,896 to support an intensive summer professional development plan to equip a team of 10 teachers and administrators to implement expanded high quality project-based learning options starting in the Fall of 2017.

North Community High School’s NSTEM Academy

$44,480 to equip a Maker Space that will enable NSTEM students to do more hands-on learning using current technology tools.

Franklin Middle School

$26,596 to create a Maker Space that will provide current and engaging technology tools to support high quality project-based learning.

Rêve Academy

$45,000 to partner with North Community High School’s NSTEM Academy to co-teach courses and units using Rêve’s “Emergent Learning” instructional model. This approach places teachers in the role of learning coaches as students pursue self-directed, real-world projects. Click here to learn more about this project.

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 to be announced before the start of the 2017-18 academic year.

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.