A Celebration of Positive Change on the NorthsideA Celebration of Positive Change on the Northside

On May 28, North Minneapolis community members, supporters, and NAZ partners gathered for a one-of-a-kind event celebrating achievement on the Northside. The 2015 NAZ Community Celebration was a wonderful example of how North Minneapolis organizations are banding together to support parents and children to generate positive transformation in this community.

We shared the latest NAZ data, and honored several standout NAZ kids and parents who are turning the dial in North Minneapolis.

Thank you to all who came to support these change-makers!

Meet the Winners of Our Community Celebration Awards

Courtney (Coco) Morgan Courtney (Coco) Morgan
Accelerated Kindergarten Readiness Award

Since late 2012, Coco has consistently attended classes at four-star-rated early learning center—and NAZ partner organization—The Family Partnership. Her family was able to provide her with a high-quality early learning experience with the support of a Ready to Succeed scholarship. Coco is a classroom leader, and has all the skills needed for kindergarten success.
Latisha Lee Latisha Lee
Accelerated Academic Improvement in Elementary School Award

Latisha is a graduate of the NAZ College Bound Babies program, which helped prepare her for kindergarten success. Now a second grader at Plymouth Christian Youth Center (PCYC)—a NAZ Anchor School—Latisha is reading at the fifth grade level and performing at 98 percent in math.
Dennis Foster, Jr. Dennis Foster, Jr.
Accelerated Academic Improvement in Elementary School Award

As a fifth grader, Dennis set out to improve his grades by working closely with a NAZ “academic coach,” participating in after-school learning programs at Sojourner Truth Academy, and receiving homework support from his mom. Dennis is now on the A and B Honor Roll.
Jaylon Oglesby Jaylon Oglesby
Accelerated Academic Improvement in Middle School Award

Jaylon struggled in school during part of his eighth grade year, but was determined to get his academics back on track. He connected with 21st Century Academy’s after-school learning program, and scored A’s and B’s in all his classes during the final quarter.
Dezmon Chandler Dezmon Chandler
Accelerated Academic Improvement in High School Award

Through increased attendance, working closely with his teachers and NAZ “academic coach” at NAZ Anchor School North High School, and utilizing after-school learning time, tenth grader Dezmon has gone from failing several classes to competing for placement on the Honor Roll.
Keenan Thomas Keenan Thomas
Parent Supporting Academic Achievement in the Home Award

As a single dad, Keenan’s goal was to find stable housing—critical for ensuring his son could focus on school. The two moved into dignified housing with the help of NAZ, Urban Homeworks, and Project for Pride in Living. Keenan makes school a top priority for nine-year-old Keemonie, taking time to read together, calculate costs at the grocery store, and make flashcards of difficult words.
Devon Nolen Devon Nolen
Parent Supporting Academic Achievement in the Community Award

In addition to being active in her kids’ academic lives, Devon is highly involved in rallying the North Minneapolis community around youth empowerment. She is an active member of several community groups, including MPS District Parent Advisory Council, Metro Food Access Network, and Council on Black Minnesotans.

Summer Learning Starts StrongSummer Learning Starts Strong

Five hundred NAZ kids are fending off the “summer slide” at academic programs hosted by five NAZ partner sites throughout North Minneapolis. Partners include 21st Century Academy, Ascension, Nellie Stone Johnson Beacons Academy, Breakthrough Minneapolis, Sojourner Truth Academy, and Plymouth Youth Center. All 500 kids will show off their academic progress during what promises to be an inspiring and fun-filled stage show at FLOW Northside Arts Crawl on Friday, July 24.

Education Advocate Father Michael Retires from MinistryEducation Advocate Father Michael Retires from Ministry

After 16 years as pastor at NAZ partner school Ascension, NAZ board member Father Michael O’Connell has announced he will retire from full-time ministry, effective July 1, 2015.

Father Michael has been a long-time advocate for solutions that close the opportunity gap for children in North Minneapolis. Thanks to his leadership, NAZ-enrolled children receive a full scholarship to attend Ascension. As a result, they are given a high-quality education and greater opportunities to succeed.

We thank Father Michael for his steadfast support of North Minneapolis children, and wish him the best in his future endeavors.

MN Legislature Commits to State’s Children

This past legislative session spelled victory for the children of Minnesota, with North Minneapolis children chief among them! Thanks to the support and leadership of Governor Dayton, Northside legislators, and legislators across party lines, Minnesota continues its’ rich legacy of being the first state to commit public funds in a truly meaningful way toward:

  • Strategies like NAZ and the Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, which are working to close the achievement gap and build the workforce of the future
  • Early learning programs including scholarships, preschools, Head Start, and child care
  • Housing stability, which will be increased through an extension of the Rental Assistance Pilot for Highly Mobile and Homeless Families

We want to offer a special acknowledgment to Representative Paul Thissen, who has been an advocate for NAZ at the capitol for several years in a row.

Watch a thank you video from NAZ staff, partners and scholars.
Watch a thank you video from NAZ staff, partners and scholars.

A Fond Farewell and Sincere Thank You to Dr. Scott McConnellA Fond Farewell and Sincere Thank You to Dr. Scott McConnell

Dr. Scott McConnell, a long-time and valuable partner, will no longer lead the NAZ internal evaluation process.

Scott has played many critical roles over the life of the NAZ collaborative. He led the work designing the internal evaluation (Seal of Effectiveness) process, and then, along with his team, worked with NAZ staff and partners to develop the initial solution plans for the NAZ Action Areas. He also launched the initial evaluation processes to ensure the efficacy of NAZ’s work.

Much of Scott’s earlier work was critical to NAZ’s application for the Promise Neighborhood Implementation grant award.

Scott leaves us as the result of a joint decision that moving internal evaluation to Wilder Research, our external evaluation partner, will create a more streamlined approach.

Thank you Dr. Scott McConnell for helping NAZ build its data-driven system!

NAZ Connect Spotlight: Achievement PlanningNAZ Connect Spotlight: Achievement Planning

Academic-focused goal setting—known as achievement planning—with NAZ children and families is a critical element to ensuring school success, and NAZ Connect makes this element possible. “Achievement planning is all-encompassing,” says NAZ Connector Jaton White, “and there’s no aspect of family support that doesn’t live in NAZ Connect.”

When Jaton and other Connectors set goals with families, they identify the appropriate programs and supports needed to reach those goals. Jaton then sends a connection to the relevant partner program or organization through NAZ Connect. Once the relevant organization receives the connection, they can then get in touch with the family about taking the next step. Any progress—or lack of—is recorded in NAZ Connect so Jaton can check in with the family to discuss roadblocks, challenges, or set a new goal.

Most importantly, every partner in the family’s team of support has access to the same information, so every interaction can be tied back to the achievement goals. NAZ Connect has made wraparound support a reality for NAZ families.

Upcoming Events

FLOW Northside Arts Crawl
July 24-25

We will host a family-friendly “NAZ Youth Zone” on Penn & W. Broadway during FLOW. NAZ summer scholars will put on a stage show the evening of Friday July 24.

For general information about FLOW Northside Arts Crawl, visit their website.

NAZ FLASH / News from the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) 2123 W. Broadway #100 | Minneapolis, MN 55411 | 612-521-4405 | the-naz.org