NAZ Newsletter: Fall 2014

Featured Family: Team Brown Shines in BaltimoreFeatured Family: Team Brown Shines in Baltimore

In late September, the Brown family travelled to Baltimore with Sondra Samuels to tell a powerful story about how engaging with NAZ has impacted their lives. The audience included leaders from 10 national funders, the Harlem Children’s Zone, Promise Neighborhood Institute and Policy Link.

Team Brown

Amy and Shannen are a loving couple who call their family “Team Brown.” After Shannen was injured in a workplace accident and Amy was diagnosed with cancer, they were unable to work. They felt frustrated and stuck.

They enrolled in NAZ and received a scholarship for their youngest daughter, Star, to attend high-quality early childhood education at NAZ partner The Family Partnership. This provided just the spark that the family needed. “The scholarships made all the difference for us,” Shannen says.

Star, who had spent long days at chemotherapy appointments, was now on track to kindergarten readiness. She received on-site speech therapy and has overcome her speech delay. Star absolutely loves school, Shannen says. “She can’t wait to go to school to be with her teachers and friends.” Every day, her parents read with her from their family library.

Amy and Shannen are now members of the NAZ Parent Advisory Board, which keeps the work of NAZ grounded in the experience and perspective of families. Board members are NAZ parents who exhibit a remarkable commitment to supporting their children on a path to college, and are also growing into outstanding community leaders.

Families Prepare Youngest Scholars to Transition to KindergartenFamilies Prepare Youngest Scholars to Transition to Kindergarten

NAZ scholars who started kindergarten this fall came to NAZ with their parents on August 13 for an exciting, information-packed session geared toward preparing for the big first day. Parents met with representatives from Minneapolis Public Schools (one of our partner schools) to learn more about how to best support their child in school. Child scholars joined in fun, school-focused activities—including constructing a mini book that describes the first day of kindergarten. It was a great day at NAZ that left all more prepared and excited for the coming school year.

Event Celebrates Northside “Turning the Corner” on Achievement Gap

On September 23, NAZ hosted a community event to celebrate that we are turning the curve toward becoming a college-going community! Thank you to the more than 200 guests who attended.

NAZ shared our latest results with the community and celebrated the individual achievements of our families. Four scholars received academic achievement awards for their amazing progress over the past year, while two parents received awards for their support of academic achievement within their homes and community.

Julissa E. Julissa E.: Accelerated Kindergarten Readiness Award. Read her story.
Daunte N. Daunte N.: Accelerated Academic Improvement in Elementary School Award. Read his story.
Willy N. Willy N.: Accelerated Academic Improvement in Elementary School Award. Read his story.
Destiny F. Destiny F.: Accelerated Academic Improvement in Middle School Award. Read her story.
Estella N. Estella N.: Parent Supporting Academic Achievement in the Home Award. Read her story.
Tamara C. Tamara C.: Parent Supporting Academic Achievement in the Community Award. Read her story.

The evening kicked off with face painting, music, and appetizers before KMOJ’s Q Bear took to the stage to announce the award winners.

Check out KARE 11’s coverage of the event.

Two Promising Scholars Receive First-Ever NAZ Scholarships

In late July, two standout scholars were surprised with NAZ college scholarship awards while surrounded by their families and NAZ support system. The scholarships remove a significant financial barrier to attaining a college degree by providing partial tuition support over four years.

Jokera W. Jokera W. began her freshman year at the University of Minnesota in Duluth this fall. She graduated from Cooper High School where she attended North Hennepin Community College during her senior year. “I am so proud of you and everything that you’ve done,” NAZ Connector Joshua Watson told her. “You are so focused and a leader for your brothers and sisters.”
Jamal B. Jamal B. graduated from Edison High School, where he overcame obstacles to become an outstanding student, athlete, and leader. He now attends Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, Minn. “Because of your hard work you’ve grown into a great role model—not just for your family, but for the entire community,” NAZ President & CEO Sondra Samuels told him. “Our boys are looking up to you.”

NAZ, Jokera and Jamal, and their parents have made a commitment to each other. In addition to financial support, the students will be supported by an Academic Navigator “scholar coach” to help guide them through college. Their parents will continue to partner with a NAZ Connector “family coach” to support them on a path to success. Jokera and Jamal have committed to focusing on school and returning to North Minneapolis to act as an example to our younger children that college is possible!

These one-time scholarships were funded by an anonymous NAZ supporter. You can support NAZ scholars by donating today.

Featured Solution: Early Childhood ResultsFeatured Solution: Early Childhood Results

Children who enter kindergarten without the skills needed begin to fall into the achievement gap, and less than one-third of children living in the Zone start kindergarten ready to learn. This reality is why NAZ places significant resources and energy into early childhood programs at partner organizations like The Family Partnership, LaCreche, Think Small, and more. We are beginning to see the results of this partnership: In 2013, 59% of NAZ scholars entering kindergarten had the skills needed to be successful (vs. 35% proficiency among all children in our geographic Zone).

To support scholars preparing to make the leap to kindergarten, NAZ provides parenting classes, screenings by age three, scholarships to attend three- and four-star rated early learning centers, and home libraries. In 2013, 124 scholars ages 0-4 were able to attend high-quality early learning centers through Race to the Top scholarships.

To learn more, check out our 2013 annual report.

President Obama Quotes Sondra Samuels About Change on NorthsidePresident Obama Quotes Sondra Samuels About Change on Northside

On September 12, NAZ president and CEO Sondra Samuels—an alum from the very first class of AmeriCorps Leaders and a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer—was honored with an AmeriCorps National Leadership Award in front of a crowd of AmeriCorps members and alums at a 20th anniversary event.

These events took place across the country, including Washington, D.C., where President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton addressed new and former AmeriCorps volunteers. During his speech, which was streaming live at the Minnesota event in the Mall of America, President Obama quoted Sondra directly, saying, “We don’t have to just wish our country was better. Together we’re making it better.”

Check out photos from the event on our Facebook page.

Celebrate and Support the Northside at the NAZ Ball!Celebrate and Support the Northside at the NAZ Ball!

Celebrate and support 1,540 college-bound North Minneapolis youth at the 11th annual NAZ Ball. Tickets are available now.

On Saturday, November 1, from 7 p.m. to midnight, enjoy award-winning music from Soul Tight Committee, complimentary appetizers, cash-bar cocktails, a silent auction, and activities for everyone.

Together, NAZ scholars and their families are leading the positive transformation of the Northside neighborhood by creating a culture in which every child can achieve academic success.

NAZ Ball 2014
Saturday, November 1
7 p.m. to midnight

Marriott City Center
30 S 7th St
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Work with Boys of Color Highlighted in Robert Wood Johnson Video

In March 2014, NAZ received a direct two-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to build academic after-school and summer programs for middle school boys of color. In addition to providing the grant, Robert Wood Johnson recently created a video highlighting the work of NAZ and expanded learning partners such as 21st Century Academy.

NAZ and Partners Highlighted in Robert Wood Johnson Video Play video

Upcoming Events

Family Academy Graduation
Saturday, October 18 from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Capri Theater
2027 West Broadway Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55411
Reserve your spot.

11th Annual NAZ Ball
Saturday, November 1 from 7 p.m. to midnight
The Marriott City Center
30 S 7th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Reserve your spot.

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