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American Democracy in Crisis: The Challenges of Voter Knowledge, Participation, and Polarization

July 17, 2018

"American Democracy in Crisis: The Challenges of Voter Knowledge, Participation, and Polarization"— the first of a series of surveys from PRRI/The Atlantic examining challenges to democratic institutions and practices— finds an alarming number of Americans do not know what factors qualify people for or disqualify people from voting. The survey also finds large divides by political party, race, and ethnicity regarding the biggest problems facing the U.S. electoral system. At the same time, there is strong, bipartisan support for a range of policies that increase access to the ballot.

Feeding Ourselves Thirsty Update

September 12, 2017

Updated Ceres report, co-funded by McKnight. How the food sector is managing global water risks, a benchmarking report for investors.

Decades of Delay: EPA Leadership Still Lacking in Protecting America's Great River

November 1, 2016

This report demonstrates the continuing failure of EPA's voluntary approach and the continuing and growing threats of unregulated nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. EPA has the power and the duty to act to require reasonable, common-sense regulations to address the growing scourge of nutrient pollution, and it should do so. Once again, MRC calls upon EPA to remedy this state of affairs, specifically recommending that EPA:Develop numeric phosphorus criteria for each of the eight states that have yet to adopt them, and numeric nitrogen criteria for all 10 states.Require states to assess their waters for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution and to prioritize TMDL development and implementation planning accordingly.Increase oversight of the state NPDES programs to ensure that both narrative and numeric nutrient criteria are implemented through limits in permits, including the use of Water Quality Based Effluent Limits (WQBELs) where appropriate.Disapprove TMDLs that lacking reasonable assurance that nonpoint source reductions are likely to occur and lack monitoring and timelines to ensure that planned reductions actually take place. Further, EPA needs to provide oversight to ensure consistency among EPA Regions in TMDL review and approval (especially in Regions 4 and 6.)Ensure that states' Nutrient Reduction Strategies contain implementation plans detailing point and nonpoint source reductions needed, responsible parties, funding mechanisms, milestones, measurement metrics, and reasonable timelines.Require states under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act to identify programs and practices for controlling nonpoint sources of pollution to the maximum extent possible.

Starting Strong: Pre-K through 3rd Grade Success Stories from Across Minnesota

October 1, 2016

Research consistently shows that high-quality, well-aligned early learning opportunities can help kids succeed in school and in life. So, in spring 2014, we hit the road to meet with educators who are embarking on comprehensive PreK-3rd grade alignment in Deer River, Winona, Proctor, St. Paul, Brooklyn Center and Pelican Rapids.In this report, we share what we learned from teachers, school leaders, early childcare providers and others who are using collaboration across grade levels, intentional and differentiated instruction, innovative parent engagement strategies and more to effectively increase student achievement. We also offer recommendations—both for practitioners and policymakers—to further align resources, professional development, curriculum and standards to benefit young learners across the state. We hope that this report will pollinate seeds of PreK-3rd grade alignment across Minnesota!

State of the River Report 2016: Water Quality and River Health in the Metro Mississippi River

September 19, 2016

Friends of the Mississippi River (FMR) and the National Park Service's Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA) are pleased to present the second edition of the State of the River Report.In 2012, we partnered to develop the inaugural State of the River Report. That report spurred a series of river management milestones, including closure of the Upper St. Anthony lock, statewide phase-outs of triclosan and coal tar sealants, and improved targeting of state clean water funds.For the second edition, FMR and MNRRA once again ask the question: "So, how is the Mississippi River?" The State of the River Report highlights 14 key indicators of river health and presents each in a way that non-scientists can understand. The report examines the status and trends of each indicator and highlights strategies for improvement.

Improving Early Literacy in PreK-3: Lessons Learned

August 23, 2016

In 2011, The McKnight Foundation partnered with a set of districts and schools in the Twin Cities area, all serving high-needs students, on a PreK–3 literacy initiative. The Pathway Schools Initiative aims to dramatically increase the number of students who reach the critical milestone of third-grade reading proficiency, an indicator predictive of later academic outcomes and high school graduation. This report focuses on findings from Phase I of the Pathway Schools Initiative (2011–2015).The McKnight Foundation selected the Urban Education Institute (UEI) at the University of Chicago to serve as the initiative's intermediary. UEI was tasked with providing the intellectual, conceptual, and managerial leadership for the initiative as well as professional development and technical assistance focused on literacy and leadership to the Pathway districts and schools. UEI anchored this support on two, validated diagnostic tools developed at the University of Chicago: the Strategic Teaching and Evaluation of Progress (STEP) developmental literacy assessment and the 5Essentials Survey.Participating Pathway schools and districts carried out the day-to-day work of the initiative. They used grant funds to expand or refine their PreK programs; hire additional staff such as program managers, literacy coaches, classroom aides, and family engagement liaisons; and purchase high-quality instructional materials, such as classroom libraries or tablets.An advisory group, the Education and Learning National Advisory Committee (ELNAC), was established in 2010 to help inform decisions about the initiative. SRI International has served as the initiative's evaluator since 2010.

Duluth ’s Energy Future: Economic Modeling of Proposed Biomass and Solar Initiatives

May 27, 2016

Executive SummaryIn early 2015,several dozen community leaders from Duluth's city government, local businesses, electric utility company, nonprofit organizations, and the University of Minnesota Duluthparticipated in a charrette to determine an Energy Future Vision for the city.The goal was to capture "the ambitions and concerns" of the key stakeholders, with relevant economic, social, environmental, [and] sustainability aspects."One of the group's priority conclusions was the need to understand jobs and economic development impacts of different energy options. They asked the Energy Transition Lab to help Duluth analyze the economic and jobs implications of more locallyproduced energy from biomass and solar energy. As part of thisresearch on Duluth's Energy Future Planning, the Energy Transition Lab approached UMD'sBureau of Business and Economic Research(BBER)to assist in the economic modeling required for the project.The modeling consisted of five proposed projects, which focused on the increased use of biomass and solar. Each of the five projects was selected based on local feasibility and interest.Projects selected for modeling included the following:I.The Grand Marais Biomass District Heating SystemII.The Duluth Energy SystemsPlant Retrofit and Biomass ConversionIII. A Torrefaction Processing PlantIV. Two Biorenewable Chemical Production PlantsV. Solar Power Production Arrays

Spatial and Skills Mismatch of Unemployment and Job Vacancies

May 1, 2016

Opportunities for integrated transit planning and workforce development. Report by Yingling Fan, Andrew Guthrie, and Kirti Vardhan Das, produced at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, with support from Hennepin County, the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation, and The McKnight Foundation.

Fields to Streams: Managing Water in Rural Landscapes

October 1, 2015

A new McKnight-funded report from the University of Minnesota's Extension Water Resources details connections between land use, runoff, and water quality in rural landscapes.

Building Strong Readers In Minnesota: PreK-3rd Grade Policies That Support Children's Literacy Development

September 10, 2015

From 2015 through 2016, the Early Education Initiative will be producing a series of reports from states and localities across the United States to provide an inside look at efforts to support children's learning from infancy and extending into the early grades.This paper explores how Minnesota's pre-K through third grade education policies are helping or hindering the ability of school districts, schools, and teachers to ensure that all children are on track to read on grade level by the end of third grade.

Pillars Of Prosperity: Leveraging Regional Assets To Grow Minnesota's Economy

August 20, 2015

Minnesota has always been rich with assets -- a skilled labor force, good jobs in diverse industries, globally competitive companies, and abundant lakes and parks that provide a high quality of life for the people who call it home.However, to maintain its strong economy and quality of life, Minnesota must adapt to fast-changing trends in the global economy, trends that affect each of the state's regions and communities differently.This report explores how the state of Minnesota -- the governor's administration together with the Minnesota Legislature -- can partner with regional networks to foster economic growth and extend prosperity to greater numbers of Minnesotans.

Yes and No: Conversations about Thriving with Artists of Color in the Twin Cities

June 1, 2015

The Twin Cities arts and culture scene is rich and expansive. It exists strongly in small places and in large institutions, in places easily seen and places more hidden. Yet at the same time as we acknowledge the artistic strength of our region, we are aware of the ways in which not everyone benefits from the cultural assets and thriving cultural economy of our region.Too often our approaches to understanding or addressing these complicated realities take a universal approach rather than a targeted approach to inquiry and analysis. This project was created specifically to hear from working artists of color directly on important questions related to their well being as artists, individuals and community.