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Community works for brighter future

Through collaboration from Red Wing businesses, nonprofits, city and county governments, schools, foundations and parents, the partners of Every Hand Joined hope to foster a community in which every child is supported from cradle to career.

The goals of Every Hand Joined are to ensure every child is prepared for school, every child is supported inside and outside of school, every child succeeds academically, every child gets some form of post-secondary education or training, and every child completes their post-secondary education and enters a career.

The approach to achieving these goals is one driven by data, said Chap Achen, co-chair of Every Hand Joined, who also works with the Red Wing Port Authority and Red Wing Shoe Co.

“A lot of what we’re doing in the next six months is research that’s going to drive what we’re going to do a year from now or two years from now or three years from now,” said Executive Director Charley Nelson.

Close to 75 percent of Red Wing High School graduates attend some form of post-secondary education, but only 25 percent of those students make it to graduation, Achen said, which is troubling because projections show within the next few years over 70 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require education beyond high school.

When looking at the numbers and the goals it’s important to stress this process is a long one, Achen said.

The success of a program such as Every Hand Joined comes from community involvement, said Joe Jezierski, co-chair of Every Hand Joined and director of Teaching and Learning for Red Wing Public Schools.

Jezierski said the schools are involved, but it’s not about the schools. The more they worked on the goals and how to address them it became clear that it wasn’t just a school issue, it was a community issue.

“We want to expose the community to that data so they can get involved and help fix it,” Achen said.

Achen also said Red Wing is average or below average in the state when it comes to many of the different measuring statistics.

“If we’re going to attract great businesses to Red Wing and grow this economy in Red Wing we need to be the Edina of rural schools,” he said.

Jezierski said one of the challenges facing the group is not having one major issue to focus on and try to improve. It’s harder to pinpoint those issues and really measure change, he said.

Nelson said he believes one of his main duties as executive director is to funnel the energy and passion everyone brings to the table in the same direction and keep the program moving forward.

There is an opportunity to really make a difference, he said, and that’s what the entire program is about.

“The whole point of this is that we’re making progress,” Jezierski said. “We will not be successful until we can say it’s every child.”

Anyone looking for more information on Every Hand Joined can visit

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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