The Ballmer Group – the philanthropic organization of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie – have committed to a five-year, $10 million grant to NAZ!

“The grant should inspire and challenge all Twin Cities business and civic leaders to lean in and work together in support of NAZ,” General Mills CEO Ken Powell said.

NAZ will use a portion of its campaign investment to launch a 3-year early-learning scholarship fund of $1 million a year for low-income NAZ families.

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5 hours ago  ·  

Scholars

The Odds Are Stacked Against Jaquan

Eight-year-old Jaquan is a typical NAZ scholar. His mom struggled to pay rent on an income below the poverty line. He was placed in Level 4 special education and suspended from his after school program due to behavior. Sadly, like many low-income children who fall into the achievement gap, Jaquan was on a track to join the “cradle to prison” pipeline.

Meet “Team Jaquan”

When Jaquan’s family enrolled in NAZ, his mother immediately began to work toward a series of goals that support college readiness.

“Team Jaquan” was formed to help him succeed in school. This team includes his mother, teacher, NAZ Family Achievement Coach, NAZ Academic Specialist, a NAZ Behavioral Health Access Specialist and more. Their work quickly identified anxiety as the cause of his problems at school.

He is now working one on one with his Academic Specialist to set and reach his own goals in school. Jaquan attends a NAZ Anchor School and his Specialist is located on site. As barriers arise, they work together to find solutions.

Because NAZ carefully tracks the progress of every scholar through NAZ Connect, we know that his after-school and summer programs have helped him to jump ahead in reading and math. He is now in Level 1 special education. Every week he hangs out with his mentor and visits his behavioral health counselor.

Support From the Cradle to College

NAZ supports scholars from pre-birth through college. Jaquan’s younger sister used to be babysat by a family friend. Through NAZ she received a scholarship to attend a high-quality early childhood education center that is helping her to prepare for kindergarten. This provided the added benefit of stable childcare for her mother, enabling her to go to work full time.

When Jaquan reaches middle school and high school, he will attend age-appropriate after school and summer Out-of-School Time (OST) programs that focus on academics, college readiness, and job training. His mentor will work with him well into high school. If he needs additional academic support, he will continue to work with an Academic Specialist through graduation. His behavioral health supports will also remain in place as long as they are needed.

He will be supported through the college admissions process and to attain a four year degree.

Reaching a Tipping Point

At full scale, 1,000 households with 2,500 scholars will be enrolled in the NAZ pipeline to college. Our high-touch team approach will support the scholars most at risk of being left behind. 

Our vision is that many of these scholars will return to the community after college and support the community to thrive.