Friends of the Future Newsletter: Winter 2016

Reflections from SondraReflections from Sondra: When Fear Knocks at the Door

Dear Friends:

This past year has been unlike any other, and for me, three clear themes have emerged:

FEAR. I characterize 2016 as the year Americans became gripped by fear. We grew afraid of so many things related to the future of our country. Most tragically our fear of each other grew, and we became newly tormented by the thought of what could happen to family and friends who are considered to be “the other.” America’s open secret is not new, but never in my lifetime have I witnessed such polarization, exacerbated by violence and ill will toward one another. At the close of 2016, it became painfully clear that we are not, as idealized in the Pledge of Allegiance, “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” In fact, in 2016, many of us ceased to believe in the promise of America because we lost our ability to believe in one another.

BELIEF. In defiance of these fears, a group of 43 Northside organizations and nine schools chose to double-down on their belief in one another and the possibilities of our country. Inspired by the dreams and aspirations of over 1,100 families and 2,200 children, this group—the NAZ Collaborative—continued to work together to demolish silos and build data-driven, seamless wraparound support for the same group of families and children.

CHANGE. NAZ is working! Our data shows that Northside children and families who receive customized and layered supports from across our many partners are achieving Kindergarten readiness, reading proficiency, and academic growth. Graduates from NAZ parent-education classes are achieving twice the goals of parents who do not. Stable families who have what they need raise children who are ready to learn. Ultimately our community is changing because we are changing. Surrounded by the collaborative, NAZ families are overcoming the opportunity gap in housing, career, health, early childhood, and K-12 education. As a result, NAZ-enrolled children will graduate from college, and that will change the trajectory of an entire generation in North Minneapolis.

Please consider a gift to NAZ. Although our federal grant has ended, we will never stop innovating. Together we will eradicate the opportunity gap for the sake of our city, state, and country. No matter the challenges ahead, we are undaunted and unafraid because we know this piece of wisdom to be true:

FEAR knocked at the door.
BELIEF answered.
And….there was NO ONE there.

For our children!

Sondra Samuels
President and CEO

Antoinette with her Family Achievement Coach after presenting to Minnesota state legislatorsAntoinette 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 more closely 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!

Read more Family Success stories.

NAZ Collaborative Receives 2016 Bush Prize!

NAZ is thrilled and honored to be among those selected for The Bush Foundation Prize for Community Innovation! Each year, this grant is awarded to six organizations that have a track record of making great ideas happen. It honors groups who have demonstrated a pattern of inclusive, collaborative, and resourceful problem-solving processes that lead to innovative solutions.

This prize affirms that our collaborative is truly breaking the mold among efforts to close the opportunity gap. We couldn’t be more thrilled to see our work together honored in this way.

Congratulations to fellow recipients Emerge Community Development; Men As Peacemakers; De Smet, South Dakota; Plains Art Museum; and South Dakota Symphony Orchestra!

Award-Winning Journalist Thomas Friedman Donates Time for NAZ EventAward-Winning Journalist Thomas Friedman Includes NAZ in His Latest Book

Best-selling author and The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman lifts up the NAZ Collaborative as a solution that will make a big impact in our community in his latest book, Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations. On December 13, Friedman also generously donated his time to speak in front of an audience of NAZ supporters and partners at a recent event hosted by Target at their beautiful Target Plaza Commons venue. Guests heard from Target CEO Brian Cornell, NAZ president and CEO Sondra Samuels, WCCO anchor and reporter Angela Davis, and Thomas Friedman himself. Friedman discussed his latest book, and attendees had the opportunity to bid on an exclusive dinner for six. T. Mychael Rambo acted as the amazing auctioneer. Thank you to Thomas Friedman, Target, and everyone who came out to support NAZ children and families!

See more photos from the event.

Introducing Adrienne Vitt, New NAZ Marketing & Communications Director!Introducing Adrienne Vitt, New NAZ Marketing & Communications Director!

NAZ is excited to introduce Adrienne Vitt, our new Marketing and Communications Director. Adrienne was born and raised in Minneapolis and is glad to return.

Adrienne’s career reflects a passion for education access through her work with youth who strive to be first-generation college students. She co-founded an education nonprofit that assists first-generation college students, and works with early literacy programs. As a communications strategist, she specializes in brand management, graphic design and web development for mission-oriented organizations. Adrienne holds a Master’s degree from DePaul in New Media Studies and undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Cultural Studies from the University of Minnesota.

As the Marketing & Communications Director, Adrienne’s primary role will be to lift up and illuminate the innovation and success within the NAZ collaborative and mission. She will be responsible for representing our collaborative effort and overseeing a broad range of initiatives designed to engage, inform, and inspire audiences. This position will raise the profile of the issue of racial disparities and position NAZ and our collaborative as the solution.

NAZ in the News

The TCB 100: People to Know in 2017 The TCB 100: People to Know in 2017

There’s an old saying: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” We’d suggest you need knowledge, too, but in December, our tradition is to compile the “who”—the Minnesotans people in business need to know in the year ahead.
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Two North Side nonprofits get Bush awards for innovation Two North Side nonprofits get Bush awards for innovation

Six Upper Midwest nonprofits with bold missions to transform the communities they serve, including the Northside Achievement Zone in north Minneapolis, will divide up a nearly $2.4 million prize pot announced Tuesday by the Bush Foundation.
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