Accelerating Graduation by Reducing Achievement Disparities (A-GRAD) is Hennepin County’s commitment to setting policy and making investments to ensure youth graduate from high school.

A-GRAD focuses on how Hennepin County does its work, leverages its investments, engages with partners and holds itself accountable for increased educational success.

A-GRAD team members work with county departments to:

  • Make sure the county is a leader and partner in increasing Hennepin County high school graduation rates
  • Ensure that county resources support models that demonstrate school success
  • Implement evidence-based strategies that increase graduation rates
  • Change county culture so that all staff and contractors are helping children succeed in school and are supporting parents’ involvement in their children’s education

In October of 2006, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution calling for a long-range plan to ensure all Hennepin County youth graduate from high school.

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Grant application notification

The Hennepin County A-GRAD Initiative will submit an application to the Minnesota Department of Education for a 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) Program grant.  An estimated $ 4 million in federal funding has been allocated for Cohort 6, for fiscal year (FY) 2014-15. Applicants awarded a grant may receive three one-year grants, subject to satisfactory completion and other reporting requirements.  If granted, funds will be used to establish and support after-school programs at the following sites:  Brookdale Regional Library, North Regional Library and Franklin Community Library.  

The program provides incentives for establishing out-of-school time enrichment programs through partner schools and community-based organizations to provide academic support that improves on the development of 21st Century Skills. Inquiries may be made by contacting the Hennepin County A-GRAD (Accelerating Graduation By Reducing Achievement Disparities) Initiative 612-348-2601.

Working with schools

A-GRAD is Hennepin County’s commitment to increasing high school graduation rates.

Report on public school students: attendance, attachment, and achievement (PDF)

These are some examples of what county departments and staff are doing to boost attendance, attachment and achievement, which are the cornerstones of school success. 

Shared social work project

The shared social work project team works to develop systems-level solutions to improve the coordination between county and school district social work activities. Read more about shared social work.

For more information, email Donna.Nelson@hennepin.us.

Creating a new county response to truancy

Led by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, be@school creates one point of contact within the county for schools reporting children with unexcused absences, intervenes early in the cycle of absences, contracts with community-based agencies to help families solve problems, focuses limited resources on younger children, and incorporates rigorous evaluation for continuous quality improvement.

Visit be (at) school.

ALC Plus

Dramatically increased school attendance for chronic truants is an early outcome in this model using "system navigators" and county funded care coordination, behavior support, chemical health, and mental health supports in Area Learning Centers (ALCs). For more information, email Jamie.Halpern@hennepin.us.

School districts in the county 

See a list of all school districts in Hennepin County with links to their websites.


How to boost graduation rates


Every time you work with a family or school-age children, ask how school is going and see if any support to boost attendance, attachment and achievement is needed. 

  • Schedule meetings that involved school-age children outside the school day, so they don’t have to miss school.
  • When working with parents of 0-5 year olds, show them ways to talk, read and write with their child every day; use resources such as Sesame Street's “Talk, read and write” fact card.
  • Become familiar with resources such as the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board to offer to parents as needed.
  • Brainstorm with your colleagues ways that you can rethink how you interact with families and children to continually support and reinforce the importance of learning from age 0 to 18.
  • Learn about various stages of child development and a host of other parenting issues that you can use to support your families through Minnesota Department of Education’s "Parents Know."


Community members

  • Get involved in local school district efforts to re-engage students in school who’ve dropped out. One example is the Minneapolis Public Schools' We Want You Back campaign.
  • Whenever you see a child or teen, look them in the eye, greet them and ask how school is going and if they’re attending regularly.
  • Volunteer to become a mentor for a young person; find resources on the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota.
  • Learn more about youth policy priorities through the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board.
  • Learn more about why investments in early childhood make a difference and then advocate for those investments with your elected officials.


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