Award-winning schools are changing the odds in Minneapolis

And the 2019 Changing-the-Odds Award goes to…

… two City Connects schools in Minneapolis: the Ascension School and St. Helena Catholic School. 

Given by, the Minneapolis Schools Finder — which tracks school performance – the Changing-the-Odds Award recognizes schools where students from low-income backgrounds are “academically outperforming the Minneapolis Public Schools average,” and/or “growing academically at a faster rate than the average.” 

Students’ success is measured by their scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments. This year, 25 schools won the award. 

What made the difference at Ascension and St. Helena? 

“Both schools have really worked hard on collecting and analyzing data,” Laurie Acker, the City Connects Program Manager in Minnesota, says. Gathering and using data is an essential part of the City Connects model that helps educators see and understand the strengths and needs of their students. 

At Ascension, where 95 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunches, City Connects Coordinator CJ McGowan has also worked hard to help students cope with trauma and build up students’ social/emotional skills. 

And at St. Helena, City Connects Coordinator Chris Benefield has been building strong relationships with community partners, including a relationship with Banyan Community, where students can go for afterschool homework help. 

“We’re proud of Ascension and St. Helena for winning this award,” City Connects’ Executive Director Mary Walsh says. “These two schools help show how powerful it is when our coordinators use data to connect students to services and opportunities that produce life-changing academic success.”

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