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Advice for the new city councils in Minneapolis and St. Paul: Prioritize and collaborate to address achievement gap

When children who have grown up without adequate support have their community and local leaders standing behind them, we have seen significant positive changes in their lives.

Members of the Minneapolis City Council
Members of the Minneapolis City Council
MinnPost photo by Craig Lassig

The newly elected city councils in Minneapolis and St. Paul will face several important challenges while needing to address and prioritize the persistent achievement gap among youth populations. To effectively address this issue, council members must take a comprehensive approach that may require extensive community engagement and allocating resources to programs outside of the school day, especially in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, not every person in our society has equal access to the path of economic mobility. However, we have witnessed firsthand the impact that mentorship, empowerment and consistent support can have on children who have grown up without adequate support. When these children have their community and local leaders standing behind them, we have seen significant positive changes in their lives.

Our newly elected City Council members should actively engage with community leaders and organizations. Together, they can create additional after-school programs, mentorship opportunities and outreach efforts. These initiatives can help bridge achievement gaps and ensure that all young residents have access to the resources they need for academic and personal success.

To achieve this, the council should foster collaboration among stakeholders and implement targeted policies. By doing so, they can pave the way for a brighter and more equitable future for all, leaving no one behind in their pursuit of success.

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To that point, we have seen some leaders take action, like the Minnesota attorney general’s most recent commitment to protect our children from e-cigarette addiction, or Gov. Tim Walz’s Drive for 5 Workforce Initiative, which will prepare the next generation for quality careers in technology, the trades, caring professions, manufacturing and education. As our next city councils establish a new set of priorities, they too should remain committed to working to fill the gap to provide inner-city youth with the opportunities to realize, pursue and actualize their dreams and interests.

If we truly want to eliminate long-standing obstacles to success, then these initial steps must be just the beginning. Our elected officials at all levels of government must prioritize and work toward making a meaningful impact within our communities.

However, the focus on community causes is often overlooked. A recent example of this is the attention given by attorneys general nationwide to the recent case against America’s tech sector. Instead of allocating valuable time to community causes and pressing matters, significant hours have been consumed by litigation based mainly on anecdotal evidence.

Brett Buckner
Brett Buckner
Our impoverished youth deserve leadership that will deliver the changes that are essential for them to actualize their dreams. I hope the attorneys general who recently traveled to the Twin Cities for a conference will prioritize filling the achievement gaps that our inner-city youth experience and focus on enabling these youth to actualize their dreams. Newly elected City Council members should, as well.

Brett Buckner serves as the managing director of, a project focused on research, advocacy and communication. The project aims to provide public policy recommendations that promote racial, social and economic equity throughout Minnesota.