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Susan Enzminger, of Morris, MN joined nearly 800 Minnesota Reading Corps Members as they took part in the Americorps service pledge to commit to a year of national service on Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at the Paul RiverCentre. Minnesota Reading Corps is the largest state Americorps program in the country. It works to close the achievement gap so that every Minnesotan child can become a successful reader by the end of the 3rd grade.

Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

WHY IT MATTERS

''What's encouraging about this report -- amid the abundance of bad news -- is that these numbers give us some direction. We can start to ask the questions that will lead us to real solutions.''

SANDRA VARGAS, president and CEO, Minneapolis Foundation, and LYNN CASEY, chair of the foundation's board of trustees.

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To see the full report, go to OneMinneapolis.org.

Editorial: Seeking answers for troubling disparities

  • October 11, 2011 - 5:06 PM

A new Minneapolis Foundation report about racial and ethnic disparities in Minneapolis confirms something we already knew: Deep racial gaps persist in education, employment and income.

What's different about this examination is its comprehensive analysis of 24 different indexes. The study analyzes the data in ways that can help the community identify effective action plans to close these critical gaps.

The OneMinneapolis report encourages citizens to think about what the city would look like if the majority of residents earned a living wage; if the majority of students did well in school; if kids had caring adults in their lives inside and outside of their families and felt safe at school and in their communities; and if people had housing they could afford.

The foundation hired the St. Paul-based Wilder Foundation to do the study on trends in education, housing, poverty, employment, crime, and representation of women and non-whites in elected office.

Among the many troubling statistics:

•One in four African America students are suspended from school each year.

•The reading gap between white and non-white students was 50 percentage points in 2010.

•More than half of all American Indian, Asian and black children in the city are living in poverty.

•Only about 20 percent of families in poverty are paying for housing they can afford, making them extremely vulnerable to homelessness.

•People of color make up about 40 percent of the population in Minneapolis, yet they hold only 17 percent of the jobs.

As the study points out, the indicators put Minneapolis at risk of becoming a fully "two-tiered society,'' which would cost the state millions in lost human capital.

However, the report also pointed to a few encouraging signs. About 63 percent of all key elected positions are held by women or people of color, and 49 percent are held by women. And kindergarteners whose families who spoke Somali at home arrived at school almost as likely to meet kindergarten reading standards as students who speak English.

Though it focused on the city of Minneapolis, the study has implications for the metro area and region. Organizations and individuals outside the city limits have a stake in the success of Minneapolis, too.

The Minneapolis Foundation isn't the first organization to examine these challenging trends, but it pulls together data from several organizations to help align the many ongoing efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

Multiple sectors of society -- business, faith, education, health, government, housing and neighborhood groups -- should mine the study for data that can help them focus on the greatest areas of need and proven methods for success.

© 2014 Star Tribune