House Education Policy Chair Visits the Northside Achievement Zone

by Sarah Clarke, Project Manager for the Education Partnerships Coalition

NAZ was recently honored to welcome Representative Cheryl Youakim, the Chair of House Education Policy Committee. Representative Youakim represents Hopkins and Saint Louis Park in the Legislature. She also works as a paraprofessional outside of the Legislative Session.

During Chair Youakim’s visit, Sondra Samuels, the President and CEO, discussed NAZ’s two-generation approach and highlighted the educational achievements of NAZ scholars. NAZ works collaboratively with more than 40 anchor partners to ensure Northside families have access to stable housing, employment opportunities, and academic resources. The NAZ data shows that the deeper level of connection a family has with NAZ, the better the outcomes for both children and parents. A layered approach combining NAZ coaches, anchor schools, out of school programming reveals that NAZ scholars consistently outperform their non-NAZ peers.

Dominique Mays shared the ways that NAZ has positively impacted her family. Dominique has two daughters, a fourth-grader and a four-year-old. Her fourth-grader, Arriel, attends Ascension Catholic School a NAZ anchor school and has dreams of becoming a doctor. Her family works consistently with a NAZ coach. She has partnered with Urban Homeworks on housing assistance. Both Dominique and her husband William have attended NAZ’s Family Academy classes. Dominique is now serving as a member of the NAZ Parent Advisory Board Member. Additionally, she is participating in NAZ workshops on political engagement and advocacy.

Daniel Larson, Vice President of Community Impact at the United Way of Greater Minnesota in St. Cloud, spoke about the efforts of the Education Partnerships Coalition. The Coalition is a statewide network of collective impact organizations focused on eliminating Minnesota’s worst-in-the-nation opportunity gaps through collective impact approaches. The additional members of the Coalition are Saint Paul Promise Neighborhood, Cradle 2 Career in Rochester, Northfield Promise, Generation Next in the Twin Cities, Austin Aspires, and Every Hand Joined in Red Wing. Daniel spoke about how learning from NAZ and other Coalition members has improved his organization’s work.

NAZ and the Education Partnerships Coalition look forward to working with Representative Youakim and her fellow Legislators to pass bills that enable two-generations of Minnesotans to thrive by eliminating the state’s worst-in-the-nation opportunity gaps. Collaborations between engaged lawmakers like Representative Youakim and organizations with intimate knowledge of their communities is how Minnesota will succeed in closing these gaps.