One America Community Efforts
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Program: Minnesota Independent School Forum Diversity Project, St. Paul, MN
Contact(s): James B. Field, President: (612) 297-6716
Purpose: To increase the number of people of color enrolled in private secondary schools in the state of Minnesota, and to change school curricula to be inclusive of different cultures

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Implemented in 1991, the Diversity Project began because the Minnesota Independent School Forum (MISF) concluded that many of its 35 members were not working to increase the diversity of their schools. The MISF noted that the overall population of Minnesota was growing more diverse and that there was a need to serve families of color in their communities. The MISF made a commitment to serve people of color within the state by providing the resources, information, motivation and guidance to its member schools. Four program goals were created to implement the commitments made by the MISF: 1.) to increase the number of students, faculty, administrators, parents and board members of color in member schools; 2.) to make member schools user-friendly to all cultures; 3.) to change curricula to represent gender and cultural equity; and, 4.) to require each school to write a school-board approved diversity plan to implement the first three goals.

Program Operations

Ongoing specific programs include faculty training seminars and curricula change. The faculty, staff, and school boards train in racial and equity issues. Recruitment of students and faculty of color has increased. Each school has developed diversity plans. The MISF has made small grants to schools to assist with programs and training, as well as scholarships for low-income students of color. There has also been ongoing diversity training for students, faculty and administrators. Faculty and administrators from 17 schools have formed a monthly forum where ideas about, and issues of diversity are discussed.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Since 1991, of the 13,000 students enrolled, the number of students of color in MISF schools has been approximately 1,300 (10%). This is a 60 percent increase. Since 1991, the member schools of the MISF had a 98 percent graduation rate. During this same period, the number of faculty and administrators of color has grown by 43 and 25 percent, respectively. One-third of the 1,000 faculty or administrators and 2,000 students have participated in diversity training in the last six years. Twenty-one member schools have developed and implemented diversity programs. These plans have reflected the MISF-sponsored training and program goals. For the 1997-1998 academic year, $1.5 million was raised and distributed in scholarships to 496 students.

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