Focus on Education

Community Pilot Project Highlights

Over the course of the last few years, the IMPACT 20/20 Education Taskforce has piloted projects in several northwest Minnesota communities, seeking to accomplish two goals: (1) to improve four-year on-time graduation rates in the region’s high schools; and (2) to increase the number of college students obtaining two- and four-year degrees from local institutions. Through implementation of these pilot projects, the taskforce has established best practices, and seen several leading indicators that demonstrate the promise of achieving their goals.

The communities of Bemidji, Park Rapids, and Thief River Falls were among the first pilot projects:

  • The Bemidji project focused on developing a success plan for each high school freshman in an effort to guide their learning through 12th grade. The unique feature of this pilot was the significant role that volunteer mentors played in working with students.
  • The Park Rapids project focused on developing a success plans for middle-school students. The unique feature of this pilot was that it focused exclusively on students who exhibited behavior(s) that indicated they might be less likely to graduate.
  • The Thief River Falls project focused on developing a success plan that included work, education, and life skill elements. The unique feature of this pilot was the establishment of a corporate-community council, which identified ways education and business can work together to prepare students for college and career and workforce opportunities.
  • Other schools with pilot projects include Mahnomen-Naytahwaush, Crookston, Fisher, Fertile-Beltrami, and Win-E-Mac.

    IMPACT 20/20 Education Model

    Although each community pilot is unique, the core objective of each is a student success plan. Additional objectives include course planning, college planning, career planning, mentoring, and interventions when appropriate.

    In addition to bringing established best practices, IMPACT 20/20 brings staffing resources. Contracted staff work with multiple schools, effectively leveraging limited funds and bridging the resource gap that is being experienced in high schools throughout our region.

    IMPACT 20/20 Successes

    A few of the successes that IMPACT 20/20 has seen include:

  • Two hundred students at Bemidji High School are receiving mentoring from a community volunteer and have developed a success plan.
  • One-hundred-seventy community volunteers are mentoring students in Bemidji.
  • The Bemidji pilot reports improvements in attendance and on the Children’s HOPE Scale test results, strong indicators of future success.
  • In the 2012-2013 school year, 47 percent of the Crookston High School sCrookston students fill out college applicationsenior class filled out a college application as a direct result of IMPACT 20/20’s intervention (in addition to seniors who had already filled out an application).
  • In the 2012-2013 school year, 12 percent of the Crookston High School sophomore class enrolled in college courses their junior year, either as part- or full-time PSEO students.
  • In Park Rapids, a school within a school is in place to address needs of students who are perceived to be at-risk of not graduating.
  • As many as 78 Park Rapids students are receiving intensive math and reading help, mentoring and other services, in any given single school year.
  • The Mahnomen-Naytahwaush project is implementing a Character Challenge course, a dance and seventh-grade orientation that brings sixth-graders from both communities together.
  • Sixth-graders from Naytahwaush are participating in football, basketball, cheerleading, and a 5K run in Mahnomen.
  • A Senior Focus class was developed and is being implemented at Lincoln High School (LHS) in Thief River Falls, focusing on instilling a “college-going mentality” and on college financial and admissions preparedness.
  • Each year, approximately 60 LHS students are being engaged in an internship experience and given the opportunity to explore a career of interest.
  • In the 2010-2011 school year, 100 LHS juniors and seniors participated in PSEO courses, which includes courses offered through College in the High School, a large majority of which are through Northland Community and Technical College.
  • LHS students have benefitted from a high-level of engagement and support from the Digi-Key Corporation – this includes donated human resources and financial resources.