six osseo students in sasabe, mexicoThe Students Connecting through International Service program in Osseo Area Schools was recognized with a Local Government Innovation Award (LGIA) by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs on Dec. 13.

Now in its 12th year, the LGIA program is organized in partnership with the Bush Foundation and co-sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties, the Minnesota Association of Townships and the Minnesota School Boards Association. Projects in up to five different categories (cities, counties, schools, townships and Native nations) are considered for awards. A panel of judges then evaluates submissions for their creativity, sustainability and collaboration.

Students Connecting Through International Service meets all three of those criteria by providing elementary students in Osseo Area Schools with an opportunity to give back to their peers in Sasabe, Mexico. Each year since 2006, Tammie Epley, former Osseo School Board member, has partnered with several fifth-graders in the district who help raise money to purchase school supplies for the Sasabe students. In addition to honing their public speaking and writing skills, this opportunity allows Osseo students to contribute to the greater global community. The experience culminates in the spring with the fifth-grade representatives taking a trip to distribute the supplies and then returning home to recap their experiences for classmates, school board members and community partners.

Elementary principals Steve Schwartz (Basswood), Aaron Krueger (Edinbrook), Beth Ness (Elm Creek), Ann Mock (Oak View), Scott Taylor (Park Brook) and Margo Kleven (Rice Lake) also play important roles in the program, Epley added. 

“This year, like every other, we’re struck by the innovation that’s happening in Minnesota,” said Jay Kiedrowski, senior fellow at the Humphrey School’s Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center and LGIA program head. “The exciting part is sharing all of this innovation with the broader community in hopes that they see opportunities in these innovative models to apply to their own communities.”

Osseo’s Students Connecting Through International Service program was one of five statewide winners in the LGIA school category. View a photo from the awards ceremony and learn more about the LGIA program.

PHOTO: Fifth-graders from Osseo Area Schools visited Sasabe, Mexico, in 2017 to distribute school supplies as part of the Students Connecting Through International Service program.