The MinneMinds coalition was launched to propel early childhood education to become a top legislative issue.


For decades, early childhood education advocates suffered cutbacks and defeats from the state’s government — despite overwhelming research that early investments help solve many educational and economic issues. In order to present a unified voice advocating on behalf of this issue, unlikely partners united to form a strong, statewide coalition to launch a successful early childhood movement in Minnesota.

To do just that, Tunheim worked with the Start Early organization to launch the MinneMinds coalition in 2012.


The coalition was launched by uniting a core group of philanthropic partners and early childhood providers and activists to lay the foundation for a successful campaign to increase investment in early childhood education. Together, the coalition developed a strong, research-intensive business case to support its policy agenda with legislators and the public — along with memorable MinneMinds brand and key message platform.

The coalition was designed using a unique model with Tunheim acting as strategic counsel and campaign manager, while the coalition members, their staffs and networks executed the plan. This model promoted ownership of the campaign and efficiently maximized available resources.

The coalition encouraged robust grassroots advocacy by adding and leveraging the networks of key partners from diverse sectors across Minnesota.

Early Learning Infographic


By maximizing the full scope and diversity of the coalition, Tunheim and MinneMinds raised the overall profile of early childhood education to a top legislative issue in the span of only a few months — becoming one of the most publicized legislative topics in 2013. The real stories Tunheim and MinneMinds created were even featured in Gov. Mark Dayon’s 2014 campaign ads.

Most significantly, over the course of the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions MinneMinds accomplished its legislative goals while remaining a unified coalition, securing more than $27 million in new annual funding for early learning scholarships for high quality programs for high-risk children.

E-12 Ceremonial bill signing_cropped