Founded in 1993, the Cedar Riverside Community School is a charter school located in the heart of the Cedar Riverside Plaza housing complex in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Recognized by the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools and authorized by Pillsbury United Communities, it was one of the first five charter schools in Minnesota, the U.S., and the world. The school’s location in Cedar Riverside has had a powerful impact upon the school’s evolution; the school serves a large population from immigrant families, who come from homes where English is not the first language.
The proposal for a charter school in Cedar Riverside grew from the neighborhood’s recent history of development. Beginning in 1986, a large-scale housing development project in the neighborhood brought a large population of families with young children. Approximately half the Cedar Riverside neighborhood resided in the Riverside Plaza Housing Project, and the large number of Section Eight units guaranteed a continued population of children.
Community activity to provide services for the children followed the dramatic increase in housing for families.
In 1989, the West Bank Community Development Corporation (CDC) developed a network of day-care houses. Local service agencies, primarily the Currie Center and the People’s Center, also increased their programming for children. In the winter of 1991, parents and school teachers in the community began discussing the need for a local school. In May of 1991, the West Bank CDC continued its history of supporting family services and agreed to act as the fiscal agent for the proposed school. With CDC backing, a series of community meetings had been held to assess the needs of neighborhood families regarding a school, and a proposal for a charter school was written.
The core collective visions for the school included the following:
1) The school would be easily accessible to residents of the community.
2) Parents’ involvement in their children’s education would be essential.
3) The school would maintain high academic standards.
4) The school would recognize and reflect the diversity of the neighborhood.
5) The school would provide an education centered on living together in a diverse community.
In the present day, Cedar Riverside Community School strives to live these values every day as its staff seek to provide a safe, joyful, and inclusive learning environment for students and their families in the heart of the Cedar Riverside Plaza.