Cradle 2 Career takes a step forward with first ever education summit

The summit on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, drew individuals from public school systems, law enforcement and private organizations.

Kelsey Duffy, director of data and research for Cradle 2 Career, speaks at the organization's first education summit on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.
Jordan Shearer / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — When it comes to barriers in education, the organization Cradle 2 Career is trying to get all the problem solvers in the same room to learn from one another.

On Tuesday, Cradle 2 Career held its first education summit, bringing together professionals from a myriad of backgrounds to meet and learn.

In 2021, the combined compensation and benefits of the cabinet members amounted to $1,811,939. That's since been reduced by more than 24%.

"Our goal is to convene a variety of voices from across the community to identify data points where we really need to work together as a community to make change — to improve outcomes for kids," Executive Director Julie Ruzek said. "We know things aren't the greatest for kids right now, and no one entity can make as great an impact as a collective."

The summit drew individuals from public school systems, law enforcement and private organizations.

They had the chance to hear from a variety of speakers, including Ruzek herself. Mayo High School senior Will Laudon spoke about how organizations can tap into youth leadership and the youth perspective.


Other speakers hailed from the Rochester Public Library, the University of Minnesota, Rochester Public Schools, public health, and the Children's Defense Fund.

Jon Losness, executive director of Families First of Minnesota, was among those to attend the summit.

Julie Ruzek, executive director of Cradle 2 Career, speaks at the organization's first education summit on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.
Jordan Shearer / Post Bulletin

"I think it's encouraging to see people who share my concern for how we rectify some of the challenges we face: affordability of child care, access to quality education and incomes that pay people a livable wage," Losness said.

Created in 2017, Cradle 2 Career is a nonprofit with a goal of bettering student outcomes by supporting the organizations touch children's lives.

Ruzek was just named executive director three months ago. Prior to joining Cradle 2 Career, she worked with Rochester Public Schools. During her time with the school district, she helped develop the community-school model, which focuses on a more holistic approach to education rather than focusing strictly on academics.

She hopes to continue that kind of holistic work at Cradle 2 Career, but on a different scale. The organization's first education summit was a step forward toward that goal.

"I have seen the impact that happens at the site level when you bring a variety of people to the table and listen to their voices. That fact that we're trying to do that at the community level, the opportunity for impact is gigantic," Ruzek said. "To say that many people, even outside of education, have played a part in making sure that kids are successful and have graduated, that's why I did this. That's why I made the jump."

Audience members were asked to raise their hands and be recognized for their work during Cradle 2 Career's education summit held Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.
Jordan Shearer / Post Bulletin

Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or
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