More than 500 middle and high school students from across the Twin Cities crowded into the North Star Ballroom on the U’s St. Paul campus on a Monday morning in April. Nearly all come from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. And for some, it’s their first visit to a college campus.
“This is the first day of your future,” Shakeer Abdullah, assistant vice president for equity and diversity at the U, told them during his welcome address. The students, participants in the CORE (Community Outreach, Retention, and Engagement) program, which is sponsored by 3M, spent the day hearing from college graduates who come from similar backgrounds and learning how to cultivate skills that will help them in school and beyond.
Launched in 2016, CORE’s purpose is to significantly increase the number of multicultural students who graduate from the U by 2025.
“One of our goals is for the U to reflect the large demographic change that’s happening in the seven-county metro area,” says CORE director Jonathan Brown. “U.S. demographics are changing rapidly, and by 2025, those who are now in the minority will be the majority.”
3M’s support is “forward-thinking”
Brown views 3M’s support of CORE as forward-thinking. “These kids are the people who one day will buy their products and who will come through their doors for work and internships,” he says. “3M is showing students they’re invested in them and care about them and recognize what’s changing and want to be on the front end of that.”
Students attending a school that partners with CORE will attend quarterly events on campus, receive instruction in their schools or communities, and be mentored by CORE staff and affiliates.
“We want kids who would not have the opportunity otherwise to engage in some high-level activities and have some life-changing opportunities,” Brown says.