For good quality of life, Minnesota is still place to be


ST. PAUL, Minn. - Of all the states in the nation, Minnesota is still "the most caring," according to one report.

A national study released this week by the United Way of America reported that Minnesota offers the best quality of life based on six criteria, including health care, education and financial well-being.

The caring report highlights the efforts of Minnesotans such as Mindy Grantham, who has lived in seven states and recently moved to Minneapolis from New York City.

"I had forgotten how sweet everyone is, and I kept thinking it was just an act, but it's not," said Grantham, who spends five hours a week mentoring an 11-year-old girl. "Compared to New York, the standard of living is much better. The price I was paying for a studio apartment that was 411 square feet is equivalent to my monthly mortgage, my car and insurance payment, and my utilities [in Minneapolis]."

According to the annual State of Caring Index study, the average Minnesotan earns about $47,240, volunteers 3.4 hours a week and voted in the last U.S. Senate race.

The study also found that more than 67 percent of all Minnesota eighth-graders scored or achieved at or above proficiency level in reading and math. The state ranked third in the nation with the fewest number of children in a single-parent household and fourth for the lowest percentage of babies born with a low birth weight.

The six factors considered in the study were economic well-being, education, health, civic engagement, safety and the environment.

Terri Barreiro, vice president of community building for the Greater Twin Cities United Way, says Minnesotans are high achievers.

"We are continuing to push ourselves," Barreiro said, "and we want to see our kids do better. But when you compare it with other states, we really have made great progress."

Barreiro noted that the information was gathered before the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks.

"We can be proud that we're doing very well across the board," she said. "However, our communities have changed significantly in the last few months and [that] is not reflected in this report."

Other states in the top 10, in order, were New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

The bottom 10, in order from 41 to 50, were Alabama, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Nevada, Mississippi, Arizona, Louisiana and New Mexico.

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