Letter from SondraDear Friend:

With intense focus on the success of Northside children and families, we’ve been doubling our efforts and the momentum is strong. You are a key part of this movement. We had an amazing Friends of the Future leadership event at the breathtaking Phoenix Penthouse on May 7. Over 125 influential guests attended this event featuring Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and former Mayors RT Rybak, Sharon Sayles-Belton, and Don Fraser. Since that event, many Friends have renewed their commitment, and new Friends have joined our movement toward a college-going Northside!

This past legislative session spelled victory for the children of Minnesota, with North Minneapolis children chief among them! NAZ received a $2 million increased investment over a two-year period to continue our work as a national leader in closing the achievement gap and building the future workforce; children across the state, including ours, will benefit from a $100 million increased investment in early childhood funding; highly mobile families in NAZ, St. Paul Promise Neighborhood, and Moorhead will benefit from an additional $2 million in housing stabilization funds; and our Education Partnership Fund coalition members in Greater Minnesota secured $1 million for their cradle to college initiatives, expanding the support for efforts like ours statewide.

There will be more exciting opportunities to engage with NAZ this summer. For example, we hope you will come out for FLOW Northside Arts Crawl July 23-25. NAZ will host a stage the evening of Friday, July 24. Continue to check our website for upcoming events.

Your commitment to our mission and continued support are invaluable and we THANK YOU!

For our children,


Sondra Samuels
President & CEO

A Celebration of Positive Change on the NorthsideA Celebration of Positive Change on the Northside

On May 28, North Minneapolis community members, supporters, and NAZ partners gathered for a one-of-a-kind event celebrating achievement on the Northside. The 2015 NAZ Community Celebration was a wonderful example of a community banding together to support parents and children who are generating positive change.

The event’s inspiring stage show featured Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith, NAZ parent Jhantaya Morgan, and NAZ president and CEO Sondra Samuels. We shared the latest NAZ data, and honored several standout NAZ kids and parents who are turning the dial in North Minneapolis.

Thank you to all who came to support these change-makers!

Meet the Winners of Our Community Celebration Awards

Courtney (Coco) Morgan Courtney (Coco) Morgan
Accelerated Kindergarten Readiness Award
Since late 2012, Coco has consistently attended classes at four-star-rated early learning center—and NAZ partner organization—The Family Partnership. Her family was able to provide her with a high-quality early learning experience with the support of a Ready to Succeed scholarship. Coco is a classroom leader, and has all the skills needed for kindergarten success.
Latisha Lee Latisha Lee
Accelerated Academic Improvement in Elementary School Award

Latisha is a graduate of the NAZ College Bound Babies program, which helped prepare her for kindergarten success. Now a second grader at Plymouth Christian Youth Center (PCYC)—a NAZ Anchor School—Latisha is reading at the fifth grade level and performing at 98 percent in math.
Dennis Foster, Jr. Dennis Foster, Jr.
Accelerated Academic Improvement in Elementary School Award

As a fifth grader Dennis 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.
Jaylon Oglesby Jaylon Oglesby
Accelerated Academic Improvement in Middle School Award

Jaylon struggled in school during part of his eighth grade year, but was determined to get his academics back on track. He connected with 21st Century Academy’s after-school learning program, and scored A’s and B’s in all his classes during the final quarter.
Dezmon Chandler Dezmon Chandler
Accelerated Academic Improvement in High School Award

Through increased attendance, working closely with his teachers and NAZ “academic coach” at NAZ Anchor School North High School, and utilizing after-school learning time, tenth grader Dezmon has gone from failing several classes to competing for placement on the Honor Roll.
Keenan Thomas Keenan Thomas
Parent Supporting Academic Achievement in the Home Award

As a single dad Keenan’s 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.
Devon Nolen Devon Nolen
Parent Supporting Academic Achievement in the Community Award

In addition to being active in her kids’ academic lives, Devon is highly involved in rallying the North Minneapolis community around youth empowerment. She is an active member of several community groups, including MPS District Parent Advisory Council, Metro Food Access Network, and Council on Black Minnesotans.

NAZ Summer Learning Starts StrongNAZ Summer Learning Starts Strong

Five hundred NAZ kids are fending off the “summer slide” at academic programs hosted by five NAZ partner sites throughout North Minneapolis. Partners include 21st Century Academy, Ascension, Nellie Stone Johnson Beacons Academy, Breakthrough Minneapolis, Sojourner Truth Academy, and Plymouth Youth Center. All 500 kids will show off their academic progress during what promises to be an inspiring and fun-filled stage show at FLOW Northside Arts Crawl on Friday, July 24.

MN Legislature Commits to State’s Children

Thanks to the support and leadership of Governor Dayton, Northside legislators, and legislators across party lines, Minnesota continues its’ rich legacy of being the first state to commit public funds in a truly meaningful way toward strategies like NAZ, which are working to close the achievement gap and build the workforce of the future. We want to offer a special acknowledgment to Representative Paul Thissen, who has been an advocate for NAZ at the capitol for several years in a row.

Watch us say “thank you”!
Watch us say "thank you"!

Education Advocate Father Michael Retires from MinistryEducation Advocate Father Michael Retires from Ministry

After 16 years as pastor at NAZ partner school Ascension, NAZ board member Father Michael O’Connell has announced he will retire from full-time ministry, effective July 1, 2015.

Father Michael has been a long-time advocate for solutions that close the opportunity gap for children in North Minneapolis. Thanks to his leadership, NAZ-enrolled children receive a full scholarship to attend Ascension. As a result, they are given a high-quality education and greater opportunities to succeed.

We thank Father Michael for his steadfast support of North Minneapolis children, and wish him the best in his future endeavors, which include remaining on the NAZ board of directors and involved in the Northside community.

Business Leaders Learn about NAZ InnovationsBusiness Leaders Learn about NAZ Innovations

On June 11, business leaders started their morning at Jax Cafe for Town Talk, an event hosted by the Northeast Chamber of Commerce geared toward introducing the business community to NAZ’s innovative solution to closing the achievement gap in North Minneapolis.

NAZ president and CEO Sondra Samuels, alongside education advocates Art Rolnick and Kate Mortenson, touched on the organization’s current $6 return on investment, how NAZ is supporting the educational achievement of children in North Minneapolis, and why businesses should pay attention.

Upcoming Events

FLOW Northside Arts Crawl
July 24-25
We will host a family-friendly “NAZ Youth Zone” on Penn & W. Broadway during FLOW. NAZ summer scholars will put on a stage show the evening of Friday July 24.

For general information about FLOW Northside Arts Crawl, visit their website.

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