History of Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (Formerly MMEP)

MnEEP remembers our founder Ronald A. McKinley

Our Genesis

1986 – In fall 1986, Arthur Himmelman , senior program officer with The McKnight Foundation, convened a meeting of three college presidents: Charles Anderson , Augsburg; Steven Lewis , Carleton; and Robert Gavin, Macalester to consider the impact of a three-year grant provided for scholarships to attract and retain students of color to their respective campuses. The review showed mixed results. While some progress had been made, it was clear a more comprehensive approach was necessary if students of color were to have opportunity and access in Minnesota postsecondary institutions.

An initial meeting of community leaders from various sectors met to discuss the advisability of developing a multi sector collaborative to focus specifically on access and success of students of color. They recommended that an expanded group, to include community representatives, should be convened to consider the steps necessary to design and implement the collaborative.

After a series of planning sessions, it was concluded that a collaborative should be formed with the mission “To increase the success of students of color in Minnesota schools, colleges and universities.” Those in attendance formed the first policy board of the new collaborative, and The McKnight Foundation provided the initial grant to begin operations. the organization was named The Minnesota Minority Education Partnership

1987 – The policy board hired Ronald McKinley as the first director. The concept of a truly multi-sector collaborative was so new to the participants the first four years were spent designing, and redesigning the collaborative, setting parameters and developing an action plan. The initial design underscored the importance of the collaborative process as the foundation for decisions about meaningful action. This commitment to common purpose and collaborative action was, and remains to this day, the glue that holds us together.

When the dust finally settled, The Minnesota Minority Education Partnership embraced a set of values that still form the cornerstone of its work. It also had formed a nonprofit structure that brought committed members into the organization and allowed for up to 31 people to be elected to the governing board (known as the policy board). A strategic plan was developed to give the organization a clear path to achieving its mission, and an action plan is annually updated to assure the timeliness of MMEP action. Some of the unique characteristics of the MMEP design included:

  • MMEP is a multi-sector collaborative, dedicated to having educators, public officials, philanthropists, business people, nonprofits, students and parents at the table
  • MMEP focuses its work on kindergarten through postsecondary education and promotes a continuum of support at all levels
  • MMEP is a multicultural organization dedicated to having the diversity of Minnesota communities represented in all components of the organization
  • MMEP’s financing structure requires that one third of its core operating budget come from membership fees, one third come from a state appropriation and one third come from grant
  • The Implementation Working Group has the ability to adjust the work plan of the organization whenever it is necessary to assure appropriate advocacy and programming on behalf of Minnesota communities of color
  • The work of MMEP is as dedicated to the process of collaboration as it is to its programs/products
As is common in any organization, founders soon began to leave to take on other responsibilities. MMEP is a different organization today than it was in the beginning. But the roots of commitment to Minnesota’s students of color are still as powerful today as they were in fall 1987.

Initial Advisory Group

Charles Anderson, president
Augsburg College

David Bennetts, superintendent
Saint Paul Public Schools

Robert Carrothers, chancellor
State University System

Gerald Christiansenchancellor
Community College System
Robert Gavinpresident
Macalester College
Joe Grabaacting chancellor
Technical College System
Richard Greensuperintendent
Minneapolis Public Schools
Kenneth Keller, president
University of Minnesota
Steven Lewispresident
Carleton College
David Longaneckerdirector
Higher Education Coordinating
Initial Board
Ronald McKinleysenior program officer
The Minneapolis Foundation
Larry Osness, president
Minnesota Private College Council
Ruth Randall, commissioner
Department of Education
Sharon Sayles-Belton, president
Minneapolis City Council
William Wilsonpresident
Saint Paul City Council

2001 – The annual State of the Students of Color report is established, later updated to be the State of Students of Color and American Indian Students Report

2004-2007 – Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (Formerly MMEP) formed the Minnesota College Access Network, linking to the national movement for increased college access for youth of color and low-income youth in the country. MCAN coordinates and builds the network with TRIO programs, community-based college access efforts, undocumented youth movement for college access, and other culturally-specific programs and initiatives.

2008 – The Race Equity Covenant, outlining beliefs and actions for individuals and organizations working toward equity, is created: AAMEA and Policy Briefs on the crisis of under-education of African American young men in our state.

2010 – Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (Formerly MMEP) began its “Race Equity Policy Brief” series, publishing key policy briefs related to the MN Dream Act movement, education of African American young men, and ELL students.

20122013 – African American Males in Education Advisory committee (AAMEA) formed the “Solutions Not Suspensions” campaign to address closing the discipline gaps in Minnesota. Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (Formerly MMEP) had a campaign “win” with the shift of Minneapolis Public Schools’ discipline policies, and increased awareness on the issue of accelerating educational support and engagement of young Black men in MPS. This campaign is linked to the national Dignity in Schools Campaign, engaging Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (Formerly MMEP) with other advocates around the country working on reforming discipline policies and practices.

Minnesota Education Equity Partnership’s (Formerly MMEP) Race Equity Fellowship program began, training emerging education policy analysts and researchers to work on distinct community efforts to address race equity in education.

2014 The Education Equity in Action! Conference brought together Educators, Community Leaders, Students, and Advocates around Education Equity and Practice in Minnesota. Participants heard keynotes from Dr David Stovall, Professor and Social Justice Activist, and Maria Hinojosa, award-winning journalist, and chose between 24 breakout sessions on education strategies.

There were four main themes for the event: School and Community Race Equity and Excellence Policies and Plans; How and Why to End Student Discipline Disparities in Schools; Collective Impact Initiatives for Aligning “cradle to career” School and Community Action; and Teachers of Color. This was not the usual conference where the problem is simply spelled out, and approaches to solutions are not addressed. All presenters were selected based on their ability to state the problem and provide some suggestions for solutions – a “toolbox” for the practitioners.

The day before the conference, February 12, 2014, a Youth Summit focused on Discipline Disparities was held at the North Community YMCA in Minneapolis. Students from around the state attended and helped to put “Youth Voices” into the discussion around behavior/discipline and “Solutions, Not Suspensions.” Click here for more information on this premier Multicultural Multi-sectored gathering.

During 2014, the board convened multiple times, creating a strategic plan for 2015 and beyond.  Our Board and Staff deeply reflected on the name of the organization and it’s ability to carry forth new strategy, new vision, and new mission. At the annual meeting held on Novemeber 13, 2014, the membership voted to accept our new name, Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (MnEEP)

2015 – Our name was changed to Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (MnEEP) and our new website was launched. We have launched our Big Bold Goals (see our home page and network pages to learn more).