African Chamber of Commerce Calls for Stronger Collaboration between Higher Education Institutions and the Community to Increase Minority Higher Education Graduates

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Please join the African Chamber of Commerce, along with other stakeholders, on May 20, 2010, when the St. Paul Travelers (NYSE:STA) and the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership, Inc. (MMEP) are announcing the kick-off of a major statewide initiative to increase college attendance among students of color and low-income students at a luncheon 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., Thursday, May 20, at St. Paul Travelers' corporate headquarters in Saint Paul, Minn.

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A major mission of the collaborative partnership should be the increase in minority student graduates particularly in Higher Education for the State of Minnesota. This will have a significant impact on the quantity, and quality, of the Minnesota workforce

The African Chamber of Commerce in Minnesota is calling for stronger collaboration between higher education institutions, district schools, community leaders, state agencies and corporations to increase the number of minority higher education graduates and to shrink the educational gap for Minnesota minorities. Minnesota needs an educated workforce and training in order to compete globally. In this regard, we must encourage the promotion of multicultural education and implement strategic steps to educate the various minority populations in the state of Minnesota.

According to the African Chamber Education Committee representative Safia Mohamed, there is a large number of immigrant teachers certified in their countries of origin that need to be re-certified through the state of Minnesota so that they can help close the minority education gap in the State. For example, here in Minnesota, there is a large number of African-educated work force who have the basic education that can prepare them to become teachers in the district school system to help students of color and others to address multicultural and global issues. In the immigrant communities of Minnesota, we have skilled bilingual and culturally-appropriate potential teachers who currently work as cab drivers and cleaners. They can be trained or re-certified as qualified teachers. They live and interact as family members within their respective ethnic, minority populations; and as minority teachers they are best qualified to teach our bilingual and multicultural students and to lead them by example and as role models.

Unfortunately, they are not able to practice their original teaching profession as they lack the state-required teacher certification. What they need now is a multicultural organization that can advocate on their behalf, that can serve as mediator between the teachers union and communities of color. In addition to this type of multicultural organization, there needs to be a strong working partnership or collaboration among the nonprofit sector, the school districts, the Department of Education, the ethnic chambers of commerce, multi-national corporations, and other leaders to help address the growing issues related to minority education and gaps.

A major mission of the collaborative partnership should be the increase in minority student graduates particularly in Higher Education for the State of Minnesota. This will have a significant impact on the quantity, and quality, of the Minnesota workforce.

The African Chamber of Commerce (ACC) is taking a leadership role to bring this advocacy piece to the St. Paul school district and eventually the State of Minnesota. Stakeholders from the higher education sector, the school districts of both twin Cities, charter schools, state representatives, teachers unions, the business and other sectors, will be contacted by ACC for participation and partnership.

ACC thanks the Travelers Foundation for its corporate and philanthropic leadership in tackling this education issue in the St. Paul communities. The ACC minority education teacher re-certification and other related issues are an integral part of Travelers focus in the community; i.e., help increase the number of minority graduates and close the minority education gap, starting first in the St. Paul school district geographic service area.

Please join the African Chamber of Commerce, along with other stakeholders, on May 20, 2010, when the St. Paul Travelers (NYSE:STA) and the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership, Inc. (MMEP) are announcing the kick-off of a major statewide initiative to increase college attendance among students of color and low-income students at a luncheon 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., Thursday, May 20, at St. Paul Travelers' corporate headquarters in Saint Paul, Minn. Legislators, civic leaders, and business and community members will learn about the Minnesota College Access Network (MCAN),a statewide strategy to increase college attendance through a statewide public relations campaign and community efforts to develop college preparation programming in all Minnesota school districts. Featured speaker Christina Milano, executive director of the National College Access Network (NCAN), will discuss MCAN's partnership with MMEP to coordinate a state effort to improve access to the state's colleges and universities.

The African Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the economic development of African immigrants in Minnesota. Our mission is to accelerate the development of African immigrant businesses, entrepreneurs, and families so that they may thrive within American economic and social systems. The ACC accomplishes its mission by providing tools, resources, and training that support a better understanding of American systems and the development of knowledge and skills that accelerate economic success of the African immigrant communities.

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Martin Mohammed
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