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Melvin Carter III Appointed as Minnesota Department of Education’s Director of the Office of Early Learning

Carter to lead statewide office charged with coordinating Minnesota’s early learning efforts

SAINT PAUL— Today, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius announced the appointment of Melvin Carter III as the new Director of the Office of Early Learning. As director, Carter will oversee a coordinated effort with the Minnesota Departments of Education, Health, and Human Services. The Office of Early Learning works across agencies to provide resources for parents and teachers, while ensuring every child has access to high-quality learning opportunities.

Carter brings an extensive background in advocating for youth to the job. As City Council Member for Ward 1 in Saint Paul, he worked closely with Mayor Chris Coleman and the community to establish the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood (an effort to eliminate educational disparities), improve student achievement and ensure success for every child from birth to high school graduation.

“Melvin brings extensive leadership experience, broad connections to our communities and a passion for excellence to this new role,” Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said. “His tireless work on behalf of the residents of St. Paul has made a tremendous difference for so many. I look forward to working with him as he turns that passion toward ensuring every Minnesota child gets a great start.”

The importance of early learning is a topic that has been front and center during the current legislative session. In Governor Mark Dayton’s budget proposal, early learning receives targeted funding including an additional $40 million for optional all-day kindergarten and $44 million to expand the state’s early learning scholarships.

Carter fills a vacancy left by outgoing director Karen Cadigan. He will continue working with Office of Early Learning staff to oversee the state’s Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant and resulting state plan. He will also travel the state to work with communities on their efforts to ensure every child, from birth to grade three, is on a path to success.

“Serving on the Saint Paul City Council has been the honor of a lifetime,” said Councilmember Carter. “From establishing the Promise Neighborhood to ensuring light rail will serve our community well, I am extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish and I look forward to continuing my service on behalf of families here in Saint Paul and many more through my work in this exciting new role."

“Councilmember Carter is a close friend and a fearless advocate for Ward 1 and the rest of our city. On behalf of our city’s residents, I thank him for his dedication and tireless service to this community,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “At the Office of Early Learning, he will have the unique opportunity to have a far-reaching impact on the lives of our young people. Anyone who knows Melvin understands this is a deep passion for him. I join with his colleagues on the Council in wishing him the best in his new role.”

Since being appointed in 2011, outgoing director Dr. Karen Cadigan has worked tirelessly on behalf of the state’s youngest learners. From overseeing the creation of the Office of Early Learning to implementing the state’s Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant, her work has helped drive the conversation around early learning in Minnesota.