General Mills: Supporting Creativity and Development for over 45 years

large group of students and volunteers

We’re proud to announce that General Mills is this month’s Featured Partner! As a founding partner of BestPrep in 1976, the company has often been the backbone of creativity, research, and development in BestPrep’s programs.

General Mills has been instrumental in the creation of BestPrep’s Minnesota Business Venture (MBV), a week-long summer program designed to teach high school students about the importance of entrepreneurship, career skills, financial literacy, and more. Bruce Atwater, the General Mills CEO in 1980-81, contributed to the development of the structure and curriculum of the camp. He envisioned MBV including keynote speakers and lessons about the basics of business and money management, all of which are part of the MBV curriculum to this day. Furthermore, General Mills has sponsored MBV for years, allowing hundreds of students to attend at little to no cost.

general mills employee volunteering with student, shaking hands

In addition to MBV, General Mills has been a key contributor to Cloud Coach, BestPrep’s  online mentoring program supporting the entire ninth-grade classes at Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools. David Clark, senior executive for General Mills and past BestPrep board member, helped lead the pilot project of Cloud Coach in 2017, and General Mills was the first company to register to volunteer for the program. Over the years, General Mills has continued to support Cloud Coach, and they are currently involved with the program through North High School. Thanks to General Mills’ support, Cloud Coach has expanded to support 1,500 students since its founding. Beginning next school year, eight Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools will be participating in the program.

“General Mills has consistently provided invaluable leadership and dedicated volunteers committed to helping students find their successful career journey,” shared Bob Kaitz, BestPrep President and CEO. “From CEOs Bruce Atwater and Ken Powell to hundreds of volunteers annually, General Mills has been a leader across the Twin Cities and the state in their commitment to education and making the world a better place. I’m so grateful for the company’s partnership.”

students and mentors working on worksheet together

General Mills has gone above and beyond in volunteerism efforts, providing nearly 1,500 total volunteers. In addition to its work with Cloud Coach, the company’s employees have served in BestPrep’s other mentoring program, eMentors, since 2005. This past year, 243 General Mills employees volunteered for BestPrep, with 150 employees supporting last fall’s eMentors program.

The company’s support extends past their volunteerism. General Mills has worked with BestPrep in a variety of ways to help us accomplish our mission. As BestPrep continued growing in the early 2000s, General Mills IT employees helped BestPrep develop their first CRM database. Additionally, their employees have volunteered in the Classroom Plus and Technology Integration Workshop programs, served as BestPrep board and committee members, and spoken to students at MBV. General Mills volunteers even presented an MBV session about the history of Lucky Charms!

A special thanks to Doug Martin, President of U.S. Retail Dairy Operating Unit at General Mills, who currently serves on BestPrep’s Board of Directors. We also extend our appreciation to the family of founding board member Don Friborg, who annually supports the Don Friborg Student of the Year Award Scholarship in honor Don, who served as Board Chair in YEAR.

We salute General Mills for its extraordinary dedication and continued commitment to the students and teachers of Minnesota!