Annual Report

2019

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In 2019, EdAllies strove to facilitate a bold and honest conversation about the future of education in Minnesota and champion policy that ensures every child has access to a rigorous and engaging education.

We rely on parents, educators, and other advocates to inform our priorities and take action where we feel we can be catalytic.

Over the last year, the EdAllies team hosted community events and discussions, elevated stories to change the narrative around education in Minnesota, and advocated alongside communities and policymakers to move the needle on education equity. Peruse our 2019 timeline to see highlights from the year.

Intro from Our Board Chair
financials

Financials

Program

70%

Management & General

22%

Fundraising

8%

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New Year, New Space!

Our new space in Northeast Minneapolis gives us easy access to policymakers and communities.

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Adding Voices to the Mix

Improving conversations on education, and ultimately student outcomes, requires centering the voices of students, families, and educators. EdAllies added Adrienne Vitt as the team’s Strategic Communications Director. Adrienne came with a background in journalism, brand strategy, and nonprofit communications. With Adrienne, EdAllies built its communications capacity by welcoming the first of seven new EdVoices contributors, sharing stories through our blog, the Star Tribune, MinnPost, and Education Post. We also hosted a Citizen League Capitol Pathways intern, Savior Knight, to support us while he learned the policy ropes.

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A Seat at the Table

Each year, educators, parents, and advocates are invited to the table for Community Allies meetings to get a deeper insight into our work while providing feedback, direction, and support. In 2019, we focused on school performance transparency, strengthening the educator pipeline, and school choice and quality.

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Navigating the Capitol

EdAllies believes that the voices of those most impacted by policy change should be at the center, especially when it comes to policy debates at the Capitol. In 2019, we supported dozens of parents, educators, students, and advocacy partners to come meet directly with legislators. We helped Hiawatha Academies prepare and train parents for a lobby day to share hopes for their children and concerns about how their schools are not adequately resourced by the Legislature. We also worked with our partner, the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, to help provide training and guidance during their annual lobby day and lessons on how to build power at the Capitol during their leadership retreat.

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Maria Tapia, Hiawatha Parent

“The way Minnesota funds schools is completely inequitable,” said Maria Tapia, a Hiawatha parent. “My children’s school serves mostly students of color, kids with limited or low income, children who don’t speak English at home; we understand our children need more support. We’re talking about some of our most historically underserved children in the city. We should be giving them more resources and opportunities—but we’re giving our children less, because they are in a charter school.

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Legislative Scorecard Released

It’s our job to make sure that policymakers understand the opportunities and barriers facing Minnesota students—and that they work boldly to address them. We also work to shine a light on the decisions being made at the Capitol and how they impact students, families, and communities. Minnesota’s confusing policymaking process makes it difficult to know where legislators stand on education issues and how the public should respond to their policymakers. To make policymaking more transparent, hold legislators accountable to do more, and let advocates know where their voices are needed most, EdAllies published its first biennial Legislative Scorecard looking back on the previous legislative sessions.

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Blocking Bad Policy from Moving Forward

When a bill came up that would have forced great teachers out of the classroom by erecting unnecessary licensure barriers, EdAllies rallied to coordinate a community-led press conference and packed the House committee room with educators, students, parents, and community stakeholders. Through testimony and a visible presence, we worked to block harmful policy changes that would have undoubtedly removed out-of-state teachers, teachers of color, and career and technical education teachers from Minnesota classrooms.

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Advancing Policy

EdAllies led the charge to ensure student data is clear and disaggregated, information on how well schools are serving students is made transparent, and families of students with disabilities can choose the best school for their kids without facing a penalty. We weighed in on these and numerous other issues during the legislative session, working to keep students at the center.

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School Funding

Special education funding was in the spotlight this year, and EdAllies weighed in on how policy design choices would impact students. Specifically, we focused on ensuring that as we close critical funding gaps, we also hold students with disabilities harmless regardless of where they choose to attend.

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Licensure

Over 4,500 Minnesota educators—and over 21% of our teachers of color—taught with a Tier 1, Tier 2, or special permission license in 2019. EdAllies built a broad and diverse coalition to elevate the stories of impacted educators, school leaders, and students. Through testimony, impactful media coverage, op-eds, and a multi-pronged advertising campaign, we provided timely, compelling information about the impact of proposals that would undermine critical licensure reforms. Attempts to erect licensure barriers for our high-quality educators failed during negotiations, and teachers will retain diverse pathways to the classroom for now. 

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Data + Transparency

Good data is essential to understanding who is being served in our schools and whether we’re moving the needle to close gaps. EdAllies worked to spark deeper conversations about standards-aligned tests, improving how we administer and report on them. The Legislature took small steps forward by requiring schools to test students as late as possible, giving educators and families a better snapshot of how individual students grew throughout the entire year.

 

In 2016, legislators passed the All Kids Count Act to disaggregate student achievement data across the lines of race, ethnicity, income, zip code, disability, and more. By organizing communities across the state, attempts to repeal this critical policy failed. Minnesota schools press on with initiatives to collect and report on student achievement in more nuanced, actionable ways.

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Alternative Teacher Prep

EdAllies led a coalition of alternative preparation providers and other nonprofits to successfully advocate for regulatory changes, removing barriers for high-quality, alternative pathways to the classroom.

 

After advocating for recent legislative changes to make it possible, EdAllies was thrilled to see Minnesota approve its first-ever alternative teacher preparation programs. The new programs, operating in both the Twin Cities metro area and Greater Minnesota, will help fill teacher shortages, increase teacher diversity, and redesign teacher preparation centered on student achievement, employee mentorship, and teacher residency.

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A Community Conversation on Cruz-Guzman

Culturally-affirming charter schools are an important option for many families, but they would be undermined by a lawsuit working its way through the Minnesota courts. In June, EdAllies organized an event with over 50 community members to update them on the lawsuit and make space for local families, educators, and advocates to share their perspectives with the lawsuit’s appointed mediators. 

 

Our UpTurnships Summer Intern, Andre Griffin jumped in to help support this work. A senior at Augsburg University and Ciresi Walburn Scholar, Andre took on research to better understand community perspectives on school choice. His support was integral in launching a new campaign prioritizing honest conversations about how to improve school quality in Minnesota.

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Investing in Research and Reporting

EdAllies welcomed Krista Kaput as our new Research Director, adding significant capacity to the team. With a background in education and public policy, Krista leads efforts to use data to tell stories about Minnesota’s E-12 landscape from an asset-based, equity lens. Krista has increased our capacity to use current data, reporting, and survey education stakeholders for advocacy and partner support.

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Building Support for Campaigns

Michelle Koffa joined EdAllies’ as our new Policy Manager. Returning to Minnesota after earning her master of public policy in education from Vanderbilt and a degree in early childhood education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michelle is helping to build and support campaigns that advance high-quality school options for Minnesota students. 

PIE Network - Eddies “Best Defense” Nomination

EdAllies was recognized by a network of our peers and nominated for our defense of tiered licensure.

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Lifting Up and Sharing Research

EdAllies launched Research Rundown, a curated list of recent, relevant research we think is worth adding to the education equity conversation. This new monthly resource summarizes key research findings from across the nation to help inform policy making in Minnesota.

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Excluded and Exaggerated Data Hides the Real State of Our Students

EdAllies works to closely track state education data and help translate what it means to our constituencies. This year, Research Director Krista Kaput wrote a blog calling out state officials for a confusing, opaque approach to releasing critical annual data. The blog caught the attention of policymakers and reporters alike, elevating the importance of quality, transparent data going forward.

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Talking Integration, Parent Choice, and Academic Excellence

We hosted a live taping of the 8 Black Hands podcast—temporarily dubbed 10 Black Hands after inviting civil rights attorney and community activist Nekima Levy Armstrong to join them—at Mayflower Church in South Minneapolis. The event pushed attendees’ thinking on how integration, academic excellence, and parent choice intersect in the fight for education justice. Attended by nearly 150 guests, with many more streaming online, the discussion was as challenging and insightful as it was irreverent, emphasizing in no uncertain terms why families deserve schools where they feel safe, valued, and academically successful.

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Prioritizing Lived Experience

EdAllies launched the Real Voice Real Choice campaign to shift the ways we think and talk about students’ potential, about what families want for their children, about what’s working and not working in schools, and much more. The campaign website features an 8-minute video depicting the experiences of students of color in the Twin Cities, plus other opinion pieces, resources, and actions.

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Changing the Narrative on School Dismissals

Families and teachers alike want safe, engaging classrooms where kids can learn—but that’s often far from their experience. EdAllies co-hosted a community listening session on the state of dismissals in Minnesota. Parents and educators came together to express how dismissals, removals, and seclusions have impacted students, families, and communities across the state—with legislators and community leaders in attendance.

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Educator Guide on Student-Centered Learning

EdFellow CJ Ellsworth collaborated with our team to write and release “5 Strategies for Personalized Learning—a guide exploring what works in a school focused on student-centered learning. In addition to basic how-tos, the guide outlines the potential miscues and areas of struggle that teachers and students may face—and what can be done to mitigate them. 

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Surveying Educators

Minnesota is revamping our state Standards of Effective Practice, setting the bar for what is and isn’t taught to aspiring teachers. EdAllies surveyed and received feedback from over 50 local educators about their teacher prep experiences to inform our advocacy.

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Standing with Charter Students & Families

When proposals emerged to place a moratorium on charter schools, EdAllies made space for learning and organizing. We brought charter school students, parents, educators, and advocates together to talk about how the proposal might impact them, and develop a plan to push back. We closed the year ready to roll out a collaboratively built plan, with a focus on connecting decision makers directly with those who would be impacted.

Staff

  • Savior Allen-Knight

    Capitol Pathways Intern

  • Brandie Burris-Gallagher

    Policy Director

  • Josh Crosson

    Senior Policy Director

  • Andre Griffin

    Summer UpTurnships Intern

  • Bethany Israelson

    Operations Associate

  • Krista Kaput

    Research Director

  • Ariana Kiener

    Senior Strategic Communications Director

  • Michelle Koffa

    Policy Manager

  • Andrea Roethke

    Managing Director of Strategy and Operations

  • Daniel Sellers

    Executive Director

  • Adrienne Vitt

    Strategic Communications Director

Board

  • Holly Kragthrope

    Chair

  • Karn Engelsgjerd

    Treasurer

  • Lisa Cannon-Ratliff
  • Ann Johnson
  • Michael O’Connell
  • Tim Penny
  • Tad Piper
  • Lew Remele
  • Roberta Walburn
  • Ben Whitney

Individuals & Family Funds

  • Albright Foundation
  • The Julie and Doug Baker, Jr. Foundation
  • Morgan Brown
  • James Carpenter
  • Jay and Page Cowles
  • Ella Daniels
  • Eric Dormoh
  • Madaline Edison
  • Karn Engelsgjerd
  • Gunderson Family Foundation of The Minneapolis Foundation
  • Maren Hulden
  • Bethany Israelson
  • Chris and Susan Israelson
  • Krista Kaput
  • Lisa Kaput
  • Ariana Kiener
  • Michelle Koffa
  • Holly Kragthorpe
  • Dick and Joyce H. McFarland Family Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation
  • Lynnell Mickelsen and John Bellaimey
  • Andrew Minck
  • Sean O’Brien
  • Michael J. O’Connell of The Minneapolis Foundation
  • Piper Family Fund II of The Minneapolis Foundation
  • Joanne Quam
  • Remele Family Fund
  • Andrea Roethke
  • Erika Sass
  • Mendon F. Schutt Family Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation
  • Daniel and Stacy Sellers
  • Karen and Dick Sellers
  • Meghna Sohoni
  • Smikis Foundation
  • Jill and Richard Stever-Zeitlin
  • Jennifer Stern
  • Bo Thao-Urabe
  • Adrienne Vitt
  • Roberta Walburn
  • Rachel Walch
  • Ben and Mary Whitney Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation
  • KaYing Yang

Foundations & Corporations

  • 3M
  • Advance Consulting LLC
  • Douglass Brandenborg Family Foundation
  • The Curtis L. Carlson Family Foundation
  • F. R. Bigelow Foundation
  • Frey Foundation
  • General Mills Foundation
  • GHR Foundation
  • Graves Foundation
  • Hubbard Broadcasting
  • The Joyce Foundation
  • McKnight Foundation
  • The Minneapolis Foundation
  • Minnesota Comeback
  • National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
  • Otto Bremer Trust
  • Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children
  • WEM Foundation