Engineering the Blueprint at Inver Hills

Entering the medium-sized classroom at Inver Hills Community College, we were greeted to homemade cookies and Equity Blueprint Springboards placed in a circle. As individuals trickled in, participants conversed and started perusing materials in front of them.

It was a condensed group of 9 or so, coming from a background of teaching, student services, workforce development, and more. Starting the conversation out, everyone turned to their neighbor and shared what they liked about their community and where there was room for growth. Participants’ communities included North Minneapolis, Woodbury, Inver Grove Heights, Stillwater, and Hastings. Coming back together, individuals shared sentiments such as they liked their community’s “neighborhood diversity, access to transportation, community identity” but felt there was opportunity for more food access points, additional transportation, affordable housing, and closing of racial disparity gaps.

Moving from their own experience, members started to discuss these issues in relation to education and the experience of students in the area. Largely the discussion was about addressing barriers to education and what might be possible solutions such as tuition match programs, rideshare pilots, PSEO outreach, and expanding learning opportunities for incarcerated individuals.

The conversation developed into a concentrated discussion towards what could be done, such as education partnering with workforce development to address transportation, childcare, and SNAP accessibility. Members proposed developing partnerships and creating a culture of care,  such as using navigation mentors and cohorts to support students in their academic journeys. The meeting left everyone with a concept to create “student ready colleges” by providing support infrastructure within education that acknowledges the “whole person”.


  • love living in an urban, fast-paced, diverse community
  • Direct neighborhood and streets very diverse in race, thought, experience, etc.
  • Access to transportation and access to other places (bus line and access to rural areas)
  • Strong sense of community identities


  • Need more housing opportunities (80-90% are properties in the area are for rent)
  • Food insecurity and addressing food deserts- mention of MyNorth Market as an asset
  • Need more opportunities for youth
  • Outside of direct neighborhood – experiencing more racism
  • Economic Development and empty storefronts
  • Racial divide down Concord Street (specifically Latino community and the trailer park)
  • Shop in town with mural only representing white people and suggestions from customers to change it
  • A gap between old generation and the new workforce in business- example of Hmong women leaving on the drop of a dime to take care of ill family members

*Transportation – Affordable Housing – Food Insecurity addressed as key barriers to accessing an education*


“A twenty-minute drive turns into a two-hour bus ride for students.”

  • Transportation to Inver Hills Community College and Century College is impossible
  • A large percent of students come from Burnsville and Eagan, no direct public transportation available
  • Need to add transportation and transit to the Blueprint (possibly under infrastructure or its own section)
    • High quality, efficient, sustainable public transportation systems that reduce reliance on cars. If we spend money on public transit rather than subsidizing individual transportation, we benefit from a lot of other issues as well such as: environment, economic access and equity, and public health and safety.
  • There is a need for improved public transportation to decrease geographic higher education gaps

PILOT: North Hennepin Community College and Lyft

  1. Download using NHCC code – students receive $20 credit
  2. Any revenue generated from NHCC pickup location up to $1 million, 1% goes back to NHCC. Up to $2 million, 2% goes back to NHCC
  3. That revenue kickback is then given back to students at the college


“Our three young children can’t afford to live in their hometown”

  • Increased funding for worker housing and subsidized housing across the state
  • Housing affects everything- education, jobs, health, citizenship engagement. Guarantee housing and a living wage and the costs of many other support services will decrease drastically.
  • Diversity & Residential Diversity
  • Housing affordability is a huge problem across the Twin Cities, and is a huge barrier to education and economic stability.

Income mobility/Poverty

“We have so many students hungry, evicted, or who lost daycare and have to dropout.”

  • Social mobility index based off of degrees: MN school with highest mobility is Dunwoody. Colleges aren’t successful if students aren’t getting jobs and able to pull themselves out of poverty or sustain their current social status.
  • Dropping out of school due to life circumstances leads to added debt and no degree to help move ahead in career
  • More significance on basic needs. Many cannot focus or receive an education without housing, food, healthcare requirements.
  • Emergency Assistance: If you don’t have transportation or a home, emergency assistance doesn’t help. Students still drop out after receiving help. Need to address basic needs for education, “So many students are one crisis away from leaving school.”
  • Benefits cliff – huge net loss if you make above the threshold for public benefits but don’t have a living wage


  • Urban Farming/community garden as opportunities and assets towards eliminating food deserts (particularly in urban settings)


  • The economic impact of the arts- a statewide survey showed that in Hastings, $3 million was contributed to the economy (city council was surprised)


“We need to focus more on basic needs. Without those how can students learn?”

  • 2-year vocation should not be FREE but at a better minimal cost. An idea that individuals will have a stake in putting forward minimal payment.
  • Transformation of education systems could backfire and is very politically and logistically challenging.
  • Access all individuals who aren’t using PSEO and are qualified
    • Funding is there: PSEO for two years + Tuition Match for another two years= leave almost debt free with a bachelor’s degree, “We need to do a better job of scaling PSEO.”

IDEA: Reinvest in education and change our funding formula to make funding for local schools separate from local property tax revenues

  • TRIO Applications
    • Selection bias that benefits students who have most resources among the set
    • Opt OUT versus Opt IN
  • Minnesota paradox and the achievement gap
    • What are the policies addressing?
    • Why don’t we want to put more money into solving it?
    • Cultural competence is a large factor in closing the gap (i.e. more teachers of color)
  • Creating a student ready college versus a college-ready student
    • Meet students where they’re starting at
  • State funding
    • There has been a decrease in state aid for public colleges over the years
    • State aid should be going to less expensive schools versus private schools – directing funding to less expensive schools would increase the number of students served and impact of dollars- Wealthy parents are donors and have power within the policy realm to keep private schools a part of state aid eligibility.


“You can bring the jobs, but people have to have the skillsets”

  • Pathway for all versus attracting top talent– attracting top talent is not the government’s job- the private sector is more responsible for that aspect.
  • Career Pathways program
    • High school to post-secondary option
    • Program too new to know the impact yet
  • Apprenticeships/Internships: Address unpaid internships as a barrier
    • Business people like the idea of them
    • Bridges the political divide
    • Note that unpaid internships only are options for privileged students: look into policy for paid internships and apprenticeships
  • Developing equitable student teacher programs will lead to more teachers of color
    • Student teaching is an option for privileged right now– working for free, have to drive, pay for other expenses, etc.

Public Safety/ Criminal Justice

  • IDEA: Expand education opportunities for those incarcerated
    • Inver Hills partners with 5 institutions- Average recidivism rate with no education is 50-60%
      • Students with an Associate Degree – 13% recidivism
      • Students with a Bachelor’s Degree- 3% recidivism
      • Students with a Master’s Degree- 0 % recidivism
    • Use a four-policy combo
      1. Reduce inequities in policing and over policing
      2. Remove profit motive for prisons
      3. Keep people out of prisons
      4. Maintain voting rights

Higher education working with the workforce to address

  • Transportation
  • Childcare
  • SNAP

Higher education working with K12 schools to promote PSEO and change the policy formula

  • Have issues in the current system such as students in the academic middle, education about the program, and ensuring students understand and are prepared for college academics

State funding and aid to education is $100 million less than 10 years ago

Current infrastructure doesn’t support students’ full navigation and staff are at capacity

  • Create a culture of care looking at the whole person
  • Navigation CORPS for college similar to reading CORPS- using mentors to help students navigate higher education somewhat like College Possible, but without the ½ year turnaround
    • Who gets to be those mentors? Recognizing the aspect of privilege that some mentors hold.


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