September 25, 2023

Destination 2010 students in attendance at the June 15 celebration event gathered for a group portrait with Nontombi Naomi Tutu before she read a poem to honor them and commemorate their experience. (Photos by Stephen Allen)

MINNEAPOLIS (June 18, 2010) – On Tuesday, June 15, about 450 people gathered to celebrate 150 Minneapolis and Saint Paul public school students and the culmination of Destination 2010, a student achievement and scholarship initiative sponsored by The Minneapolis Foundation.

As third-graders, these students were promised that if they graduated from high school and did not move out of the Minneapolis and Saint Paul school districts, they would be given a $10,000 scholarship for a four-year college or a $5,000 scholarship for a vocational/technical school. The celebration, which was held at the Nicollet Island Pavilion, honored the journey of these students and their families, their academic achievements and, for most, the beginning of their post-secondary education.

After the long trek through elementary, middle and high school, Tuesday’s event was an apt celebration of a journey full of twists, turns, challenges and successes. Between cheers at every mention of the word “college,” the event featured WCCO TV anchor and youth mentor Angela Davis as keynote speaker, special guest Nontombi Naomi Tutu, international human rights advocate and daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who offered a blessing and special message to the students, and Voices Merging, who performed an original piece created for and dedicated to the Destination 2010 students. Several students also shared their personal experiences.

“I really want to thank Destination 2010 for keeping me looking toward the future and what it will bring,” said Destination 2010 student and graduate of Washburn High School, Eric Simmons, before the crowd of fellow students, families and friends, and school and community leaders. “Thanks for everything that you guys did to give us a head start in life and help build skills that we will actually use in the real world.”

“Being able to participate in D2010 meant having knowledge, support and a motivator for my family and me,” said Agustina Miranda, a graduate of Champlin Park High School and Destination 2010 participant. “It gave me something to look forward to in life, not just the money but the experience. I am very thankful for this great opportunity.”

Over the years, Destination 2010 lost many of the original students due to mobility issues, including their moving outside the eligible districts. And instead of seven public schools, by 2010 students were spread across 40 schools. What The Minneapolis Foundation and its partners have learned is that for this group of students, who are among the most under-represented populations in higher education, there are no shortcuts. Collaboration across schools, communities and families is critical to getting them from kindergarten to college.

Four graduating students shared their reflections on Destination 2010 at the June 15 celebration and are pictured here with special guests Angela Davis, Keynote speaker, and Naomi Tutu. From left to right: Rayneisha Varner, Eric Simmons, Agustina Miranda, Miguel Castell-Victorio (back).

“We first met these students as nine and ten year old children,” said Sandra Vargas, The Minneapolis Foundation president and CEO. “Tonight we saw how they have grown into young men and women, ready to pursue the next step in their education. As we listened to their stories, I was reminded again that along with scholarships and academic enrichment opportunities, a sincere belief in the abilities of all of our kids is perhaps the most critical piece of the puzzle. Quality education is key to both individual success and regional prosperity. Armed with the lessons learned from Destination 2010, we will continue working to achieve educational equity in the Twin Cities.”

In 2001, The Minneapolis Foundation invited 364 third-graders from seven struggling Minneapolis and Saint Paul public schools to start dreaming of college. The initiative was called Destination 2010 and was designed to help students — the majority of whom were low income and students of color — graduate and pursue higher education. Along with the promise of scholarship funds, the initiative provided academic and social support, and post secondary planning tools and resources to the students and their families.