Adrienne, mother of two and NAZ parent, has come a long way in a short amount of time. With support from her family achievement coach Lucretia, early childhood support from Northside Child Development Center, and Project for Pride in Living her life is dramatically different. 

A few years ago, Adrienne was lost. Her first son, Achilles was still in diapers and her second, Prince was on the way.

“I had a lot of things going on. I was dwindling in addiction.” She was in a tumultuous romantic relationship and not able to hold down a good job.

“I found ways to cope with the unhappiness I was feeling, the depression that I was feeling, I didn’t know what it was called I just thought that I liked doing drugs and I kinda liked getting high. Because I chose to use, I chose to partake in illegal activities which introduced me to a whole different ball game of trouble. I got into check fraud.”

Because of the nature of the check fraud, Adrienne was placed on federal probation.

“Federal probation is a lot different than regular probation. They’re a lot tougher, you kind of don’t know what’s going to happen. I didn’t have any children when I did the fraud, but by the time it caught up with me I had a child and I was pregnant. I was also using. I was using because I was depressed and depressed because I was using. When I gave birth to my second son he had drugs in his system.”

Adrienne also violated her probation, so while recovering from the birth of her son she was informed that Federal Marshalls were looking for her. She was allowed to turn herself in, but without knowing what was going to happen to her when she did.

“I had to turn myself in, after all the emotions [of giving birth] with nobody with me, and know that my son was still in the hospital. I had to be in jail for a month, in that most crucial time and that is what really woke me up to never wanting to be there again, ever. I never want to feel what that felt like ever again.”

“I got out and had to start over from scratch and get my kids back and work hard to get them back. I was taking NA and AA classes, I had a parenting coach, taking classes like College Bound Babies, and making sure I was staying on the right track.”

Adrienne’s scholars were enrolled in New Horizons when she heard about NAZ and started working with a Lucretia, a NAZ Family Achievement Coach.

“I am one of those people who are open to better myself. I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the fact that we had to make goals for ourselves. I fell in love with the fact that [Lucretia] was personable and she cared. And she listened to me and she knew what I needed.”

In our College Bound Babies and Foundations classes, she was able to learn and tap into a healing community.

“You come together and learn all these new things and get all these new tools, I’m all about tools. I felt like getting together with other women [I was able to] break some of those generational curses we grew up with.”

“We accumulate all these different things over time, mom and sister and wife and addict, all these different things that we accumulate over time, we forget that we’re important, we forget that we’re lovable, we forget that we’re empowered. We forget all these things because the world has put so much on top of us. We forget about ourselves. Classes like Foundations are so crucial to women in our community and I think that more women need to be told about this. If I could have pulled every woman around me to take those classes I would have.”

Adrienne has worked extremely hard. She now works at a job she loves at Breaking Bread, she has custody of her two sons, and NAZ partner People for Pride in Living has partnered with her with a new place to live, on her own.

“When I meet people and I talk about NAZ I’m so invested because I know where it got and I know how much happier I am and I know how much more empowered I am and I know how much I’ve learned. I think more women and people should know about NAZ. I love it and I live it.”

A Parent Taking Leadership of her Child’s Education

Though her daughter Jhanae was diagnosed with a learning disability, NAZ parent Ethrophic Burnett made sure she remained unaware of it. “I wanted her to stay focused on her potential and the possibilities, not on her limitations and assumed future,” she says. Then, shortly before high school graduation, Jhanae discovered her learning disability and became convinced that she was broken.

“She heard a message of don’t try, you’re going to fail anyway,” Ethrophic recalls. “That would make any one of us furious as parents. The sky is the limit!” So together with her NAZ academic coach, Ethrophic encouraged and supported her daughter. They pushed Jhanae to apply herself, and Jhanae, in turn, worked hard, graduating from NAZ Anchor School, Patrick Henry, in spring 2015. She is currently working full-time, and plans on attending MCTC in the spring of 2016 through the Power of You Program.

Ethrophic is dedicated to her daughter’s success and does whatever it takes to support her children to succeed in school and life. She was able to advocate for Jhanae and partnered with the school and her team to ensure her scholar had fair and equal access to her education, and post secondary options.

Ethrophic is also committed to the success of the entire Northside community. She works as a Community Engagement Specialist at Urban Homeworks, is a member of the NAZ Parent Advisory Board, and serves on many other boards and committees.

Antoinette Achieves Career Success with the Help of the NAZ Collaborative!

The year 2015 was especially difficult for NAZ parent Antoinette W. She was working a high-stress job that made her feel unappreciated, and going through a rough patch with her youngest daughter, Kiesha. It was right around this time that she began partnering with the NAZ Collaborative and her Family Achievement Coach Andre McNeal, who told her, “Just give it a year—let’s see what a difference a year makes.”

Antoinette agreed to work with NAZ and its partners and trust that things would get better. She wanted a fulfilling job, a strong relationship with her daughter, and bright futures for all her high school-age children. So together with her team, she began by addressing the issues she was having with Kiesha.

Their breakthrough came in Spring 2015, when Antoinette, despite her initial reluctance, participated in Kiesha’s senior prom. With the encouragement of her team, she realized it was critical for her to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime event, and the experience ultimately helped patch up their relationship.

Kiesha moved back home and graduated from NAZ Anchor School Patrick Henry that spring. Antoinette is proud her daughter is currently studying early childhood development at Hennepin Technical College, while her other daughter, Kiana, is studying phlebotomy. Both daughters received support from a NAZ Achievement Coach at Patrick Henry, who ensured they were on track with their college goals and Federal Student Aid application.

Antoinette’s second major success came the following year when, together with Andre, NAZ partner Emerge, and NAZ Career and Finance Specialist Deanne, she set out to find a better job. In June 2016, she attended Wanted Analytics, a pilot résumé-building event hosted by NAZ and Emerge. There, she was able to get her résumé reviewed and apply for jobs immediately. A few weeks later, Antoinette announced she had landed her dream job at Interlude Restorative Suites, a place where she’d always wanted to work. She’s already received a promotion.

And this past October, Antoinette presented to a group of Minnesota state legislators about the impact the NAZ Collaborative has had on her family. Her efforts will help make it possible for other families to receive similar support—so they too are better able to build a brighter future!

Collaboration Builds Prosperity

When NAZ parent Jill W. lost her home in a fire in 2015, she worried how the loss would affect her four young children—particularly her eldest son, Willie, who had previously struggled with behavioral problems as a result of housing instability.

So she called on her support network at NAZ and, together with several NAZ partner organizations, everyone made finding Jill and her family a new home their top priority.

As Jill was on the Achieving Through Stability (ATS) subsidy when her house caught fire, the compliance team at Project for Pride in Living (PPL)—the administrator of the subsidy—sent an emergency all-points bulletin to its property owners in North Minneapolis. One answered the call, and Jill moved into an affordable three-bedroom apartment a few months later. Eventually, Jill was able to graduate off the ATS subsidy altogether and soon began working on a homeownership goal with her NAZ team.

As luck would have it, PRG, Inc.—a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that offers quality, affordable housing development and related counseling and development services—approached NAZ with the rare opportunity for a NAZ family to own a home in North Minneapolis, with payments capped at 25 percent of monthly income.

The selection process for the home was highly competitive, but Jill’s responsiveness and hard work paid off. She closed on her home August 19, 2016—with her NAZ team beside her!

With a stable, comfortable home and a team of supports to track their progress, all four of Jill’s children are currently thriving at Sojourner Truth Academy, a NAZ partner school. Willie, who was nearly sent to a special education school as a result of behavioral problems, is now a 7th grader reading at a 10th grade level, and he was recognized by the state of Minnesota as a talented and gifted student!

Ke’Von Finds College Success with the Support of NAZ!

NAZ scholar Ke’Von spent his freshman year of high school transferring between two different schools before finally ending up at North High School, a NAZ Anchor School. When NAZ Academic Specialist Andrew Bloomquist met Ke’Von in 2014, the student was struggling in multiple subjects, and just barely above a passing grade.

For two years, Ke’Von, Andrew, and Ke’Von’s family worked together to help the young man become—and remain—successful in school. Andrew tutored Ke’Von after school in math and science, and offered guidance on organizational tips and techniques. They also partnered with Ke’Von’s advisory teacher to stay on top of his grades by doing weekly check-ins, targeting missing assignments, and putting together plans to stay organized. As a result of Ke’Von’s hard work and partnership with staff at NAZ and North High, he consistently earned placement on the A and B honor rolls.

Ke’Von and Andrew worked together his junior and senior year to research colleges and complete applications. They partnered extensively with the counselor at North High, as well as the Career and College Center at AchieveMpls, another valued NAZ Anchor Partner, to develop a college and scholarship application plan that singled out specific schools Ke’Von was interested in. The targeted approach proved a success, as Ke’Von was accepted into several colleges. Ultimately, he chose to pursue his post-secondary education at Bethune-Cookman University, a distinguished historically black college and university, in Daytona Beach, Florida. Ke’Von began his college year this Fall.

And for his accomplishments, Ke’Von was recognized by NAZ with the Saunders Foundation Scholarship, a four-year financial award given to a NAZ scholar who has exemplified academic excellence, community engagement, and strong college readiness.

According to Andrew, “There is no doubt that Ke’Von was raised in a household that values education, hard work and persistence. Ke’Von will be missed by many at North, but we know he will experience many great successes at college and beyond!”

Moving from Expulsion to Academic Success

Third grader Nevin struggled with behavioral problems and was expelled from NAZ partner Ascension Catholic School as a result. In partnership with the school, NAZ staff met with Nevin’s mom, Tina, to brainstorm solutions. Over the course of a few meetings, “Team Nevin” strategized a multi-pronged approach to keep the child in school.

 Angelica Sanchez, the NAZ Academic Navigator at Ascension, now spends thirty minutes of every school day with Nevin, helping him transition into the classroom in the morning. She also checks in with him throughout the day. “He looks forward to our check-ins,” Angelica says. “It’s given him confidence.”

NAZ Connector, Shatika Coleman, meets regularly with the family to ensure they have the support they need, and to connect them to the NAZ behavioral health network. Meanwhile, Tina gets her son to school on time every morning and helps him with his homework.

Since implementing this team approach in December 2015, Nevin has done a 180-degree turn. “The child’s behavior has been amazing,” says outgoing principal Dorwatha Woods.

 When we align resources around a single child, the results can be life-changing. Now that Nevin is attending school regularly and better able to manage his emotions, his learning potential is limitless.

Stability Leads to Success

James’ family was struggling financially and moving every few months. Without a stable home, James’ academic performance suffered, and he showed up at kindergarten not ready to learn.

Then his mom Angela heard about NAZ. They were matched with a NAZ family coach who helped Angela build a goal plan with steps to make sure her kids would succeed in school. Angela started by signing a NAZ “College-Bound Commitment,” pledging that she would make supporting her children’s path to college a top priority.

In the past year, the family found an apartment with Urban Homeworks through a Project for Pride in Living grant. Angela also graduated from NAZ Family Academy parent education classes, where she learned how to best support her children’s success in school. Today, Angela acts as a parent facilitator, co-leading a Family Academy class.

Angela’s efforts have shown a clear payoff in James’ academic progress. Thanks to a stable home and academic support, James is now on track in kindergarten and showing clear progress every day.

Young Children on a Path to Success

When Allegra came to NAZ, she knew that she wanted a better life for her family. Thanks to scholarships secured through NAZ, she was able to enroll her three youngest children in La Crèche, a four-star-rated early learning center. Allegra also learned skills to support early learning for all her kids, including six-year-old Richard. Richard’s scores on the Beginning Kindergarten Assessment showed that he arrived at kindergarten ready to learn, and he is now on the A honor roll at Harvest Prep’s Mastery School.

Allegra is now focusing on her own education and pursuing her long-held dream of working in health care. Allegra was matched with a job counselor at EMERGE, completed Certified Nursing Assistant coursework, earned her license, and is in the process of searching for a job.

Making School Success a Top Priority

In 2014, single dad Keenan Thomas’ 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.

The A+ Student

Fifth grader Dennis Foster, Jr. 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.