Wes Moore, author (The Other Wes Moore: One Name Two Fates) and youth advocate delivered the keynote speech at AchieveMpls tenth annual Education Partners Luncheon on November 16. Attendees included educators, school board members, students from Best Academy and Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson, who also spoke briefly.
“Education is the civil rights issue of our time,” she said in an introductory video. “We’re here to make sure our students’ futures are tailored to success.”
Patrick Henry High School senior and AchieveMpls student Antonique Martin reeled in the crowd with her personal story about family struggle. She named AchieveMpls as the main reason she’ll be attending Grambling State University next fall.
Moore talked about his own story, recalling that he was once a troublesome teen, the catalyst for his mother sending him to military school.
“There I finally found myself surrounded by people, role models and mentors who helped me understand that we lived in a big, beautiful world and I had a place in it,” he said.
“Family and education matter,” Moore said, “but there’s one overall thing: expectations matter.”
Moore spoke about inclusion of all students, especially those involved in the criminal justice system. His advice to adults and leaders in education was to create outlets for all students and deem every one as capable of achieving. Teens without positive motivation, he said, have a way of living up to the meager expectations they are sometimes held to.
“We can never have a conversation about the future of our country and community if only a sliver of the population is part of that conversation,” Moore concluded. “Society is full of others. [At AchieveMpls] there’s a collective understanding of who we need to fight for.”
Former AchieveMpls Board member Jeremy Hanson highlighted the STEP-UP Achieve Jobs Program as the organization’s highest impact program among in-school career exploration, college readiness and leadership programs. This past year a total of 750 interns worked at 150 businesses. Target Corporation, a sponsor of the luncheon, has hired 128 interns as employees since 2002.