Literally a mile up the road from the Minnesota School of Business-Richfield (MSB) campus is Partnership Academy, a tuition-free public charter school serving students from kindergarten to 5th grade. There’s closeness between MSB and Partnership Academy that is more than just proximity, and it is illustrated through each of our mission statements:
Our Mission: We will demonstrate We Care by preparing career-focused, community-minded graduates for the global workforce.
Their Mission: Partnership Academy’s mission is to create learning experiences and partnerships that empower students to achieve their greatest potential in order to be positive contributors to their community.
Partnership Academy is where we spent our annual Community Service Day—one day a year, all the campuses in our organization close so that we can focus solely on our We Care mission.
Partnership Academy opened in 2002, with 115 students and 12 staff members. A decade later, the school had grown to 260 students and 43 staff members. The students are a diverse population from Richfield, Minneapolis, and Bloomington, and 95 percent of them qualify for free or reduced lunch. All you see when you walk in the doors of Partnership Academy is a bunch of very happy kids, skipping down the hallway, extremely excited and curious to say hello and meet their new friends. We were grateful and lucky to be their friends.
Beyond the kindred values of our educational institutions, we also share the same Community Service Day—making our partnership a natural fit. Though small in stature, the first and second graders had big plans to give back to their community. Projects and field trips were the day’s priority. A couple of those projects were to make pot holders to donate to Loaves and Fishes, an organization that provides nutritious meals to those in need in the Twin Cities area, as well as potting flowers to bring to a local nursing home. We spent our Community Service Day helping those students help others.
“Having an organization like Minnesota School of Business come in and work with our students models to our students what it is to be a positive contributor in a community,” said Partnership Academy’s Volunteer Coordinator, Vanessa Nesbitt. “It really shines through as a true ‘mission’ moment.”
MSB staff and faculty assisted on projects that ranged from puff painting potholders to deep cleaning refrigerators.
“The students were extremely excited to get help with their planting flowers. It was a first planting experience for most of them,” said MSB-Richfield librarian, Carol Roos. “It was a joy to see their smiling faces and hear ‘thank you’ from them all.”