Featured Family: From Nearly Dropping Out to Enrolling in CollegeFeatured Family: From Nearly Dropping Out to Enrolling in College

Richard was an unmotivated student nearing the end of his senior year. Many of his friends had dropped out, and he was lagging behind. After his mother enrolled his family in NAZ, their Connector knew she had to step in to help him graduate and graduate on time. Richard is the oldest of nine children. His Connector grew up in a similar situation, and told him, “I know it can be difficult, but you can’t give up. If you drop out, then you’re telling your little sisters and your little brothers that it’s okay to drop out too.”

Before NAZ, Richard had not given a single thought to college. NAZ arranged a tour of our partner Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), which opened his eyes to the many possibilities of his future.

That was the little extra push Richard needed. Once he realized all the opportunity that lay ahead after graduation, he was determined to get his high school diploma. Richard’s Connector made sure he was doing everything he needed to do to graduate on time.

Because of Richard’s commitment to a successful future, he graduated from Plymouth Youth Center at the end of May and will begin classes at MCTC in the fall. Richard has become a great example for his younger siblings. He has also inspired his mother to get her GED. As their Connector told them, “When you succeed, we all succeed.”

Groundbreaking Summer Expanded Learning Partnership with Teach for AmericaGroundbreaking Summer Expanded Learning Partnership with Teach for America


A groundbreaking partnership—years  in the making—between Teach for America (TFA), the University of Minnesota, and NAZ means two hundred NAZ scholars will spend the summer in high-quality learning environments.

Teach for America will be hosting its training institute in North Minneapolis this summer and will use the 21st Century Academy (hosted by NAZ Anchor Partner Kwanzaa) and Beacons Academy at City View (hosted by NAZ Anchor Partner Nellie Stone Johnson Beacons) as their training classrooms. This program is the first alternative teaching licensure program to be approved in the state of Minnesota.

For NAZ scholars this means intensive high-energy academic instruction with a very low teacher to student ratio, partnered with robust programming by the host programs.

NAZ President and CEO Sondra Samuels emphasized the value of this new partnership: “Teach for America offers a creative way to efficiently expand the pool of talented and unrelenting teachers into the classroom.”

NAZ Education Director Jaimee Bohning told program staff, “Our work over the summer will be community changing.  It will alter the trajectory of our scholars in North Minneapolis.”

Hopes and expectations are high for both the new partnership and for the scholars and families involved. Scholar progress will be tracked throughout the summer.

NAZ Welcomes the White House!NAZ Welcomes the White House!

We are so honored that White House representative Roy Austin Jr. came to NAZ for a site visit earlier this month. He spoke with several members of our collaborative about how we work together to support results for Northside children and families. He also visited NAZ scholars at Plymouth Christian Youth Center’s summer program that focuses on reading and math proficiency.

Mr. Austin, Deputy Assistant to the President for Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity, White House Domestic Policy Council, was in town at the invitation of Mayors Coleman and Hodges to conduct a briefing on the recent recommendations of President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to support the success of boys and men of color. While here, his visit to NAZ was a top priority.

NAZ Funding Bill Approved by MN LegislatureNAZ Funding Bill Approved by MN Legislature

We’re thrilled that Promise Neighborhoods in both Minneapolis and St. Paul are two of the first in the country to partner significantly with the state. Throughout the legislative session, NAZ worked to build significant awareness of and support for our collective work. As a result, Governor Dayton signed the supplemental budget bill that provides funding to NAZ this year and identifies NAZ as a priority for future support.

This is a sign that our local leaders recognize that something special is happening in North Minneapolis that can and should be replicated in other parts of our state:

  • NAZ scholars are more likely to be ready for kindergarten (59% vs. 35% for our entire Zone).
  • NAZ scholars significantly improved their reading and math proficiency.
  • NAZ reduced housing instability for enrolled families by 1/3.

We’re excited to partner in such a significant way with our state. We look forward to reporting on the progress NAZ scholars and their families make over time.

Thanks to our many supporters who contacted legislators on our behalf.

Family Academy’s Success to be ReplicatedFamily Academy’s Success to be Replicated

NAZ representatives were invited to the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg to present to university staff and community leaders about the innovative NAZ Family Academy model. Family Academy offers a series of classes focused on providing parents with the skills and tools they need to strengthen the stability of their family and support the academic success of their children.

As a result of our presentation, the University will use NAZ’s curriculum when it launches its own pilot program this summer.

Presenters included NAZ President and CEO Sondra Samuels, Director of NAZ Family Academy Andre Dukes, and Director of Research at NAZ partner UROC, Dr. Lauren Martin.

NAZ Featured in the Star TribuneNAZ Featured in the Star Tribune – “A Zone for Success: Bold Effort Promises Reversal of Fortune for Troubled Families”

Ahzaneia Cook sits at a low table finger-counting her way through after-school math problems, figuring simple sums and then coloring a flower to match the number.

Read it Here

Newest Promise Neighborhoods Visit and Learn from NAZNewest Promise Neighborhoods Visit and Learn from NAZ

Promise Neighborhoods from across the country came to NAZ on June 18 to learn more about how NAZ and its collaborative partners are using data to drive measurable results for more than 600 enrolled families and 1,500 children. The trip was initiated and funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Promise Neighborhood Institute.

“While we work toward the goal of creating a college-going culture in North Minneapolis, we are always simultaneously working to ensure that each of our best-practice solutions can be easily adopted by communities across the country,” said Sondra Samuels, NAZ President and CEO. “Because of this, we are especially thrilled to welcome Promise Neighborhoods from across the country to North Minneapolis and build collaboration with them.”

The visiting communities came from Chula Vista CA, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Indianola, MS. Each received a U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhood implementation grant in 2012, similar to the grant awarded to NAZ in December of 2011. “The progress for children in the NAZ shows the power of results-based leadership in helping community and system leaders use data and collaboration to drive intentionally toward the outcomes they want to see,” said Ashley B. Stewart, a senior associate with the Casey Foundation, who has worked directly with NAZ leaders on their approach.

The visiting Promise Neighborhoods will bring home detailed information about how NAZ has built its systems of support since becoming a Promise Neighborhood. “It’s refreshing to see all of the data and tools NAZ shared with us. At one point, their organization was where we are. They’ve taken it to scale and they are willing to share their experiences with us.” Favela-Barreras said.

Introducing a New NAZ Website!Introducing our New Website!

We are excited to announce the launch of our completely redesigned website!

Last fall we hit a major milestone of 500 enrolled families. Since that time, NAZ scholars and their families have accomplished great things and we have a lot to tell you about. Please take a moment to explore the new content, our latest results, and sign up for upcoming opportunities to learn more about our “cradle to career” approach.

We want to offer our warmest thanks to Deyo Designs for their outstanding work on the site.

Upcoming Events

Family Academy GraduationSaturday, July 121 to 2:15 p.m., reception to followCapri Theater2027 W Broadway Ave
Reserve your Seat
Lunchtime Series
Wednesday, Sept. 24
High Touch Support for Every Student—the key to eradicating the achievement gap
NAZ Central
2123 W Broadway Ave
RSVP Required
NAZ Ball
Saturday, November 1
Marriott City Center
Minneapolis MN
Thank you to Target Corporation for once again being the Ball’s Premier Sponsor.

Ending Multigenerational Poverty Together – Join Us!Ending Multigenerational Poverty Together – Join Us!

Each of us has a part to play in the transformation of the Zone. You can take action today to support families and children on their path to success in school and in life.

NAZ FLASH / News from the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ)
2123 W. Broadway #100 | Minneapolis, MN 55411 | 612-521-4405 | the-naz.org