To reach the future we want for our region, we need to ensure all our kids and families are set up for success.
That’s why in 2016, our Board of Directors made the strategic decision to sharpen our focus and combine our work in economic development, community impact, and giving around a single purpose: our kids. We launched a 10-year strategy called Grow Our Own to align resources, build momentum, and close the opportunity gap for our kids by investing in the people and systems that surround them.
Our definition of the Opportunity Gap
The ways in which socioeconomic status, community wealth, familial situations, race, ethnicity, English proficiency or other factors impact children’s ability to reach their full potential.
The goals of Grow Our Own are to:
- Change negative narratives that impact economic mobility
- Reduce sources of stress in the lives of children and families
- Strengthen core life skills (like numeracy and literacy skills, critical thinking skills, financial literacy, etc.)
- Support responsive relationships across generations and sectors
The outcome of this work is economic mobility—that all people in southwest Minnesota attain a reasonable standard of living, experience the dignity that comes from having power and autonomy over their lives, and are engaged in and valued by their community.
What kids need to succeed
We use a cradle-to-career framework to help organize and talk about our work in a way that brings more people into it. To reach their full potential, kids need: strong and heathy families, high-quality early care and education, K-12 engagement in and out of schools, vibrant and welcoming communities and career on-ramps.
All kids are our kids
Grow Our Own is grounded in the belief that all kids are our kids, and that each person—whether a parent, grandparent, employer, educator, elected official, community member—has a role to play in ensuring a strong future for southwest Minnesota … a future that relies on our next generation. Our kids today.
The 2018 Grow Our Own Summit explored what our region will look like for the next generation and the role all community members play in helping to support our kids.
Click on the graphic to learn more about what kids need to succeed in southwest Minnesota.
Sources: US Department of Health and Human Services; Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development; Minnesota Department of Education; U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey; The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, “Closing the Opportunity Gap Report,” Harvard Kennedy School (2016); US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, “Restoring the American Dream: What Would It Take to Dramatically Increase Mobility from Poverty?” (2018)