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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Conditions in North Minneapolis

Educational Disparities

Children in North Minneapolis experience stark educational disparities. Minnesota’s achievement gap ranks among the worst in the nation and the negative indicators that produce this gap are most pronounced on Minneapolis’s Northside.

  • Only 29% of entering kindergartners living in North Minneapolis are ready to learn.
  • Just 37% of African American youth graduate on time from Minneapolis Public Schools.
  • 16% of African American youth graduate ready for college and 13% of those who attend a public university graduate in 4 years.

Violent Crime

The Northside is a small geographic area, but accounts for the majority of the city’s crime. It is not uncommon for bullets to pierce the homes of NAZ staff and enrolled families, nor is it uncommon that young Northside children have been shot recently.

Family Factors

A variety of challenging family factors are experienced by the more than 5,500 children living in North Minneapolis—including physical and behavioral health, stability and safety of housing, and economic and financial well-being.

  • Seventy-three percent of NAZ families earn $19,000 or less per year.
  • Single-parent families represent 51% of Northside households.
  • Twenty-five percent of North Minneapolis students are homeless or highly mobile.

Because of these educational and economic disparities, NAZ works only with children and families living in North Minneapolis.