The Cargill Foundation is making a $4 million, three-year commitment to Minneapolis Public Schools and  AchieveMpls, the support organization of the schools that funds high school career centers, mentoring and internships, and other programs not covered by traditional state-and-local funding.

The latest grant brings to $16 million the total from Cargill, the single-largest supporter of AchieveMpls.

Cargill has been steadfast over the last decade in trying to help the Minneapolis district increase graduation rates and produce more students ready for college and employment training. Most Minneapolis students hail from low-income families. here also is a yawning academic-achievement gap generally between whites and minorities who are the majority of MPS students.

“Cargill’s support will help advance the district’s efforts to increase equitable access to [science, technology and math] programming and college and career readiness,” said Michelle Grogg, the Cargill Foundation executive director. “AchieveMpls and [MPS] are working hard to improve academic achievement for all students. Cargill knows that the success of every student shapes the future of our community.”

AchieveMpls last fiscal year raised $6.3 million in revenue from individuals, businesses and foundations.

The $4 million Cargill grant will be spent over the next three years on college-and-career readiness centers and related work with thousands of students; “STEM” programs for science-and-math in the schools; and the expanding “AVID” initiative that seeks to close the academic achievement gap between students of color and white students, with tutoring and other academic-enrichment work.

“The Cargill Foundation’s support will help our district better meet students’ needs while providing enriching educational experiences that prepare them for both school and life,’’ said Superintendent Ed Graff, the fourth CEO to take the reins of the district in a decade.

Graff is wrestling with a budget deficit next year at a district that has shrunk from about 55,000 students to 35,000 students since the 1970s.The state-education funding formula, the primary source of education funding, is tied to the number of students in a district. Minneapolis taxpayers also have approved special levees for increased funding.

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