Friends of the Future Newsletter: A Great Start to 2014 Thanks to Friends Like You

Sondra SamuelsDear Friends,

You are changing lives one at a time, transforming families and building a culture of achievement.

Our kids need you. We need you. We are excited to announce to all of our FRIENDS that an increase of your Friends of the Future commitment as well as any new commitments will be matched up to $25,000 by the SMIKIS Foundation! Your financial support and your ability to mobilize the resources and influence of your networks moves us toward a future where all of our kids are successful.

For the Children,

Sondra Samuels
President and CEO

New Minneapolis Mayor Deeply Involved with NAZNew Minneapolis Mayor Deeply Involved with NAZ

We were thrilled to have Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges as the keynote speaker at a Friends of the Future gathering on March 4 at the Phillips Family Foundation. Mayor Hodges spoke to a packed room of more than 100 leaders from across the metro. It was a high-energy event which sparked great conversation.

The Mayor is beginning to work closely with NAZ as a key partner in changing outcomes in the most distressed area of our city. In fact, she invited Sondra Samuels to play a role on her Mayoral transition team. We are also very happy to announce that in May, the Mayor will join the NAZ Board of Directors. Thank you Friends and Mayor Hodges for your leadership and an incredible evening!

Take a look at pictures of the event.

Sondra Samuels Named to 100 “Minnesotans You Should Know”

NAZ President & CEO Sondra Samuels was listed as one of “100 Minnesotans You Should Know” in the Twin Cities Business’s 2014 Black Book. Congratulations Sondra!

Featured Friend: Christine Levens and the Ruff FamilyFeatured Friend: Christine Levens and the Ruff Family

Three Generations of Friends

The story of how Friends of the Future Leadership Team member Christine Levens and her extended family came to join the Friends is a favorite at NAZ.

Christine is the Director of Events & Programs at the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and also serves as the President of the Northeast Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. She became involved with the Friends in its early days when the NE Mpls. Chamber joined as one of the Friends’ first members. Christine quickly joined our Leadership Team where her participation and support has been critical to the Friends continued growth and success.

Christine’s connection to NAZ is also personal. Her family, stretching back through multiple generations, has lived, worked and raised their families on the Northside, and Christine herself lived there for the first ten years of her life. Because of that connection, she understands the NAZ mission in a unique way, “NAZ is important to me because it is supporting families in the exact same area of the city that generations of my own family started their lives and eventually thrived. They demonstrated that developing skills and receiving an education could change everything. Every family should have the chance to develop and build toward a future for their families like mine did.”

Last year, Christine brought her mother and grandmother to a Friends of the Future Panel Discussion on helping communities out of poverty by using education as a lever for change. Her grandmother, Mary Ruff, a retired teacher, was “completely enthralled with the presentation, but specifically with the philosophy and educators at [NAZ Anchor School] Harvest Prep,” said Christine. Mary expressed a wish to be 30 years younger so she could join the Harvest staff.

In fact, Mary’s excitement was so great that Christine was inspired to recruit her extended family to join Friends of the Future “in honor of Bob and Mary Ruff”. They joined as a group and presented the membership as a gift to Mary on Christmas. Mary was “delighted” and asked them to continue that tradition yearly.

Christine and the Ruffs bring a special energy to the Friends and to NAZ and their support is deeply appreciated. As a student in the Masters of Fine Arts Degree (MFA) in Creative Writing program at Hamline University and with a demanding career and an active civic life, Christine already juggles an overflowing schedule. Her commitment to NAZ, however, is aligned with and reflective of her belief system. “I believe in NAZ,” says Christine, “because I believe in families.”

Sondra Samuels takes part in Policy and a Pint: The State of EducationSondra Samuels takes part in Policy and a Pint: The State of Education

Last month our own Sondra Samuels participated on a panel convened by Minnesota Public Radio’s The Current and the Citizens’ League.

Listen to the broadcast.

Welcome to New Development Director Ryan PetersenWelcome to New Development Director Ryan Petersen

Ryan comes to NAZ from Urban Homeworks (UHW), a NAZ Anchor Partner focused on housing as a stabilizing force for families. Ryan spent eight years as the UHW Development Director and helped them grow from an organization developing six to eight units of housing annually to a pace of 40-60 units annually. His work has centered on building strong relationships with a broad base of individuals, foundations, corporations, communities of faith, and public entities. During Ryan’s time at UHW, their support base grew from 230 in 2006 to more than 1,400 in 2013.

Ryan is excited to meet every one of the Friends of the Future. “People give because of who they are, not what they have,” he said. His plans for the Friends of the Future are to strengthen long-term relationships with people who want to make a difference while being transformed in the process.

Ryan is committed to leveraging every minute of effort and every penny of contribution to ensure that the kids in the Zone have the opportunity to pursue dreams they never thought possible. His commitment to NAZ is personal and he is excited to partner with the Friends of the Future.

Upcoming Events

Family Academy Graduation Ceremony
Saturday, April 12 from 1 to 2:15 p.m. at Elizabeth Hall School
1601 N Aldrich Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55411
Program begins at 1 p.m.
Cake and ice cream will be served.
Learn more

Friends of the Future Lunchtime Series
Wednesday, April 9, 12 to 1:30 p.m.
Stronger Parenting—the critical component to real community transformation.
Hear from NAZ staff and parents about how we’re working together to create powerful change in the lives of young scholars.
Learn more

Save the Date: NAZ Ball 2014
Save the Date
Help us build on last year’s incredible Friends of the Future presence!
Saturday, November 1
Marriott City Center
Minneapolis MN

Funding for NAZ in State Education Finance BillsFunding for NAZ in State Education Finance Bills

We’re thrilled to announce that funding for NAZ is currently in BOTH the house and senate education finance bills. The next major step is conference committee – where House and Senate will come to agreement on a final package to present to the Governor.

We owe a special thank you to bill author Rep. Joe Mullery and also to Sen. Bobby Joe Champion. Both have been providing powerful testimony and working hard behind the scenes on behalf of NAZ families and children.

NAZ Funding Update: NAZ Receives $250,000 from Robert Wood Johnson FoundationNAZ Funding Update: NAZ Receives $250,000 from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

We’re thrilled to announce that NAZ is the winner of a prestigious grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. They recently awarded $250,000 to support our middle school boys of color to jump ahead academically.

“This grant enables us to expand after school and summer Expanded Learning programs to support middle school scholars,” said Jaimee Bohning, NAZ Education Director. “It’s rewarding to have such a highly respected national foundation recognize the quality of work happening in North Minneapolis.”

NAZ also recently received gifts from the following Foundations:

David Winton Bell
Carlson Family Foundation
General Mills
Gilligan Foundation
JP Morgan Chase
Land O’Lakes
McKnight Foundation
Mortenson Family Foundation
Race to the Top
Samsara Foundation
Shoemate Family Foundation
Smikis Foundation
United Health Foundation
WEM Foundation

Featured Family: Tamara – Becoming a Community LeaderFeatured Family: Tamara – Becoming a Community Leader

Tamara Campbell’s enthusiasm for building a college-going culture in both her family and her community is infectious. When she learned about the NAZ mission to ensure every child in the Zone graduates ready for college, something inside her “clicked”.

Tamara enrolled and immediately began working with her Connector to put all five of her young scholars on a path to college. Tamara’s preschool-aged child received a NAZ scholarship to a high-quality early childhood education program. “Because of that scholarship I was able to keep my full time job.” Tamara also took two parenting empowerment classes through NAZ Family Academy that helped her understand the key role she plays in the academic success of her scholars. She jumped in to these classes with both feet and immediately began applying conflict resolution and parenting empowerment techniques at home. She also started talking to all five of her children about her expectation that they will attend college. Today, Tamara’s 17-year-old son is receiving college brochures in the mail weekly and he and Tamara read them together. “We both believe he will attend college. We can see now that it is achievable – that it’s not an impossible idea,” she said.

Tamara now talks about college to her neighbors, people on the bus – to whoever she is with. She is a leader in the Zone’s transformation and we are proud to call her our partner.

We Need FRIENDS Like You

Double your renewal commitment and we’ll double it again!

Today, 119 individuals, families, corporations or foundations have signed on to be NAZ Friends of the Future, supporting the success of Northside scholars and families. The Smikis Foundation has issued a challenge to encourage you to increase your commitment. Friends who increase their commitment will have their investment doubled up to $25,000.

Not sure of your status? Contact Mindy at to find out. THANK YOU!

Thank you to New and Renewed Friends

Renewed Friends

LuAnn and Andrew Brown
James Carney
Annie Gillette Cleveland and Fritz Cleveland
Heidi Dodd
Meleah and Chuck Follen
Nancy Gaschott and Mark Ritchie
Barbara and Michael Goldner
Karen Grabow
Bud and Carol Hayden
Libby and Tom Horner
Pam and Peter Kellenberger
Ilo and Peggy Leppik
John and Nancy Lindahl
Jeff Huggett and Diane Lindquist
John and Mary Ann Mauriel
Malcolm McDonald
Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce
Dania Toscano Miwa and Noah Miwa
Sheila Morgan
Alice and Mort Mortenson
Kate and David Mortenson
Patty and David Murphy
Kim and Stafford Nelson
John and Joan Nolan
Rhonda and Rory O’Neill
Plastics International
Art and Cheri Rolnick
Samsara Foundation
Roger and Michele Sit
Smikis Foundation
Tina and Archie Smith
Soran Foundation
Kiran Stordalen
Ming Tchou
Jim and Sharon Toscano
Lisa and Gage Walker
Barbara and Don Wallace
Bill and Mary Zimmer

New Friends

Sue Bennett
Robert Boyd and Helen Schwartshoff
Allan Burdick
Lou Burdick
Mike and Ann Ciresi
Kate and Bill Cullen
Dianne and Braxton Haulcy
Ellen Hoeg
Penelope Hunt
Frank Janezich
Karen Kelley-Ariwoola
Courtney Kiernat
Chad and Rafina Larsen
Bill McLaughlin
Brian Mogren
Arthur and Emily Monaghan
Bruce and Tracy Mooty
Scott and Suzanne Pepin
Mary and Paul Reyelts
Ruff Family in honor of Mary and Bob Ruff
Kathy Schmidlkofer
Linda and Jesse Singh
Louis and M.K. Family Foundation, Inc.
Shoemate Family Foundation
Justin and Kristin Stets
Barbara Wallace
WEM Foundation

Friends of the Future Newsletter
2123 W. Broadway #100 | Minneapolis, MN 55411 | 612-521-4405 |