Dakota County Community Helps Farmington Students Surpass Goal!

Dakota County students from Farmington HS Soles4Souls collectionDakota County Community Helps Local Farmington Students Surpass Fundraising Goal!

Dakota County businesses, APPRO and CERRON, are excited to announce that our local shoe drive was a huge success! Our local Dakota County community answered the call to donate shoes for an international not-for-profit organization, Soles4Souls (see recent blog article HERE). Farmington High School Students, Sydney Bockelman, Jacqueline Smithson, Andrew Lupowski, and fellow students involved in the Youth Development group, set a goal to collect 1,000 pairs of shoes for this 2nd annual event. The group was eager to share that they were able to collect 1,467 pairs of shoes, with 143 pairs collected from the APPRO and CERRON collection site (and a $200 cash donation). The Dakota County community was eager to help for this event. The APPRO and CERRON team also donated 450 cans of food to go to the local food shelf in connection with 360 Communities.

The students processed the shoes to be sent to the Soles4Souls regional collection site at a student lock-in – an annual event called “Games for Change”. At this event, the students play games like Volleyball and Dodgeball, and then spend time devoted to the non-profit work including Soles4Souls, 360 Communties, and making 500 peanut butter sandwiches for area youth.

Soles4Souls collection for Dakota County HS student programThe team at APPRO and CERRON was thrilled help support these local students in some small way and applauds all their hard work to help make both our local and global community a better place in which to live, learn, work and ideally to thrive! Way to go Farmington High School students!!

The Youth Development group was featured on WCCO news, you may see their website here(scroll down to find the Games for Change story).

Redesigning MN: If We Engage People in Shaping Programs, We’ll All Be Better Off

Redesigning MN

By Jack Matasosky

For more than a year, I have been a part of a group of Lakeville leaders – business owners, clergy, nonprofit leaders, elected officials and others – working with 360 Communities to think differently about how our community meets its most public needs. Above all, we’re focused on finding new ways to deliver early childhood education so that our community’s programs and services are reaching more children and getting better outcomes.

We’re redesigning the early childhood education ecosystem in Lakeville to make it work better within the dollars available, even as the demand for service continues to grow, and that’s no easy feat.

But our community is rising to the challenge of thinking differently about our early childhood programs. It’s an exciting adventure to be a part of.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting that brought together representatives from a broad cross-section of Lakeville early childhood programs collectively identify how we could reach more people with our existing programs. The meeting, convened by 360 Communities in partnership with InCommons, an initiative of the Bush Foundation, was the beginning of a six-month process to get our community focused on improving early childhood education and focusing on outcomes. Film crews for Redesigning MN were on-hand to capture our community-driven conversation as a local-level example of the conversations that need to take place to redesign our public services.

Our community-driven effort has continued to move forward in the weeks since this event. We’re thinking about how to make sure every child in need has access to the early childhood education programs that can help them thrive in school, and how to ensure that every Lakeville parent knows about these opportunities offered by our existing network of community supports. And we’re thinking about how we can improve the programs offered to ensure that every Lakeville child enters Kindergarten on track for success.

As a long-time resident of Lakeville, it’s invigorating to see our community coming together – people from the business and faith communities, educators, parents, and other residents – to create better opportunities for our youngest residents. I know that we’re all committed to creating a better future for Lakeville, and thoughtful conversations like the event convened by 360 Communities and InCommons are equipping us to find that shared vision and craft a collective approach to redesigning our early childhood education programs.

At the end of the day, change needs to be driven by the families that need help. We can’t fit people into programs. We need to engage them in these opportunities – and we’ll all be better off for it.

That’s what we’re trying to do in Lakeville, and I’m proud to be a part of it.