I had the pleasure of attending the 11th Annual Education Partners Luncheon hosted by AchieveMPLS yesterday at The Depot in downtown Minneapolis. AchieveMPLS, which began in 2002, is a nonprofit partner of the Minneapolis Public Schools. They work with the goal to support education and lead students to a successful life after high school. As part of their mission, they seek to be a bridge between Minneapolis Public Schools and the broader community in the Twin Cities. They surely succeeded in this goal at yesterday's luncheon. It was a great time of communion between educators, adminstrators, city and state leaders, and many more poeple who work to support education in diverse ways.
After hearing from Mayor R.T. Rybak and a young woman for whom the support of AchieveMPLS has been truly lifechanging, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro delivered the keynote speech, entitled "Building Brainpower Cities: Bold Leadership for Urban Public Education." Mayor Castro's message was incredible. When he took office in 2009, he challenged his city with this simple, but shocking question: What kind of city do we want to be in ten years? How can we make this vision for 2020 possible? He endorses—and has actively and successfully implemented—a community model that engages all citizens to improve education and thus improve the holistic future of the city.
Café College was one such goal of Mayor Castro's that has since come to fruition, making education initiatives literally central to the whole city and moving San Antonio closer to their vision for 2020. Café College—a café like any other—is a place where every high school student in the city, whether they attend public or private schools, can go to receive free and consistent support at any stage of the college admissions process. Because I was ever so diligently tweeting about the event, I neglect to remember the specific statistic Mayor Castro offered, but it was something along these lines: in most public schools, the ratio of students to guidance counselors in general (and thus in terms of assistance in the application process) is a staggering 400:1. It is clear that successful initiatives to improve education cannot be the schools' responsibility alone. This must be a community goal. Creating channels of support for all San Antonio students in the city center unites education and community in a remarkably innovative way, much in the vein of the AchieveMPLS mission.
The reminder that we can do more together than alone was enough to bring the room to a standing ovation. And it was enough to inspire me to think about my own goals and my daily work and how I can use both to contribute to this city that is becoming my own. What can myON do to improve the city in which its vision was born? How will myON change the world? We'll see you in 2020.
--Megan Swanson, myON Marketing