Launched in 2001, Destination 2010 enrolled 364 third-graders across seven struggling Minneapolis and St. Paul district public schools in a nine-year student achievement and scholarship initiative. ”D2010” was designed to help these students, the majority of whom were low income and of color, graduate in 2010 and pursue higher education -- and to share the lessons learned along the way. As third-graders, these students were promised that if they graduated from high school and did not move out of the Minneapolis and Saint Paul school districts, they would be given a $10,000 scholarship for a four-year college or a $5,000 scholarship for a vocational/technical school. The celebration, which was held at the Nicollet Island Pavilion, honored the journey of these students and their families, their academic achievements and, for most, the beginning of their post-secondary education.
After the long trek through elementary, middle and high school, Tuesday’s event was an apt celebration of a journey full of twists, turns, challenges and successes. Between cheers at every mention of the word “college,” the event featured WCCO TV anchor and youth mentor Angela Davis as keynote speaker, special guest Nontombi Naomi Tutu, international human rights advocate and daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who offered a blessing and special message to the students, and Voices Merging, who performed an original piece created for and dedicated to the Destination 2010 students. Several students also shared their personal experiences.
“I really want to thank Destination 2010 for keeping me looking toward the future and what it will bring,” said Destination 2010 student and graduate of Washburn High School, Eric Simmons, before the crowd of fellow students, families and friends, and school and community leaders. “Thanks for everything that you guys did to give us a head start in life and help build skills that we will actually use in the real world."
"Being able to participate in D2010 meant having knowledge, support and a motivator for my family and me,” said Agustina Miranda, a graduate of Champlin Park High School and Destination 2010 participant. “It gave me something to look forward to in life, not just the money but the experience. I am very thankful for this great opportunity."
Over the years, Destination 2010 lost many of the original students due to mobility issues, including their moving outside the eligible districts. And instead of seven public schools, by 2010 students were spread across 40 schools. What The Minneapolis Foundation and its partners have learned is that for this group of students, who are among the most under-represented populations in higher education, there are no shortcuts. Collaboration across schools, communities and families is critical to getting them from kindergarten to college.
"We first met these students as nine and ten year old children,” said Sandra Vargas, The Minneapolis Foundation president and CEO. “Tonight we saw how they have grown into young men and women, ready to pursue the next step in their education. As we listened to their stories, I was reminded again that along with scholarships and academic enrichment opportunities, a sincere belief in the abilities of all of our kids is perhaps the most critical piece of the puzzle. Quality education is key to both individual success and regional prosperity. Armed with the lessons learned from Destination 2010, we will continue working to achieve educational equity in the Twin Cities."