"MELF, PASR and Close Gaps By 5 have had different work plans, but they all have been about using early education to prevent the achievement gaps that pose such a threat to Minnesota’s children, society and economy."
CEO, Ecolab Corporation
Board member, MELF, PASR, Close Gaps By 5
Close Gaps By 5 is a Minnesota-based non-profit organization dedicated to using high quality early education programs to close and prevent achievement gaps, and to making Minnesota’s early education system more equitable.
Founded in 2006 and voluntary sunsetted in 2011, the nonprofit Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF) used $20 million in private funding to pilot early education reforms, and recommended approaches it found to be effective and efficient. To learn about what works, MELF piloted several approaches for improving early education quality in a number of Minnesota communities. Through a rigorous evaluation of the pilots, MELF found the Parent Aware Ratings to be an especially effective and efficient reform tool. A full recap of MELF, its findings, and its final recommendations is available in this Early Education Blueprint. MELF's key reforms – the Parent Aware Ratings and Early Learning Scholarships – have been funded by the State of Minnesota.
Founded in 2012 and voluntarily sunsetted in 2016, the nonprofit Parent Aware for School Readiness (PASR) was focused on ensuring successful implementation of those reforms. Several former MELF leaders were involved in this effort as well. Under PASR, there were significant gains in the number of children benefiting from Scholarships and Parent Aware-driven quality improvements. There were also gains in the number of Minnesota providers volunteering to adopt kindergarten-readiness best practices and the number of Minnesota parents aware of the Parent Aware Ratings, and using them in their shopping.
Close Gaps By 5 is working with partners and empowered parents to expand the MELF reforms to all of the 31,000 Minnesota children who currently cannot access high quality early education and are at-risk of falling into Minnesota’s worst-in-the-nation achievement gaps. Several MELF and PASR leaders will remain engaged in this work. Click here for an excellent summary of the past, present and future of what is sometimes called the "Minnesota model" of early learning.