More than one in six southwest Minnesota kids lives in poverty.
Not all of these kids—no matter how hard they try—will be able to reach their full potential.
Kids from low-income families have less access to everything from quality early childhood education to Advanced Placement courses in high school to sport and enrichment activities that provide mentoring, teambuilding and other life-long skills they need to be good citizens and good employees.
These kids are our future employees, entrepreneurs, community leaders, volunteers, homeowners and taxpayers. We believe that our region’s economy depends on their success. We need to break the cycle of poverty to help all our kids have the chance to succeed.
This work is economic development.
Our regional employers are facing an incredible workforce shortage. We need more southwest Minnesotans to get into the workforce and successfully stay there. Training workers starts long before walking through their company’s door. Employers need a workforce who shows up on time, knows how to do their job and produces quality results. Not all of our young people are equipped to do this, and it starts at birth.
This work is the right thing to do.
Despite challenges, research shows that our region is in a relative position of strength. Kids do better because of the resources we have here in southwest Minnesota, like:
- Quality education
- Safe neighborhoods
- Many two-parent households
- Strong support systems
- Access to enrichment activities
- Job opportunities
- And more!
Action now will preserve this advantage. We are taking a holistic approach to this work—from cradle to career—to help all our kids get the best start to life.
- Restoring the American Dream – US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty
- Closing the Opportunity Gap – The Saguaro Seminar
- Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis – Robert D. Putnam
- A Profile of Youth Poverty and Opportunity in Southwestern Minnesota – Carsey School of Public Policy
Childhood poverty is growing in our region.
- 10,335 southwest Minnesota kids age birth to 18 live in poverty—that’s one in six.
- 4,202 of our kids are living in poverty before they get to elementary school.
- In southwest Minnesota, 43.6% of our kids qualify for the free and reduced lunch program and live in families struggling to meet their basic needs.
- 2018 U.S. Federal Poverty Guideline: $25,100 for a family of four.
- 185% of the Federal Poverty Guideline is $45,510 for a family of four, the qualifying threshold for the free and reduced lunch program.
- Cost of living in southwest Minnesota for a family with two working parents and two children ranges from $60,789 to $67,787.
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)