NAZ Newsletter: Jamar’s Journey to Kindergarten and Annual Report

“The community is ‘leaning in’ to support our work in incredible ways. There has never been a more exciting time to live and work in North Minneapolis!”
–NAZ President and CEO Sondra Samuels

Jamar’s Journey to KindergartenJamar’s Journey to Kindergarten

Squeezed for time between work and school, Taya and Courtney Morgan relied on relatives, part-time childcare, and evening work shifts to make sure someone was watching the children. But they realized their patchwork childcare was hurting their son. Ever shy, Jamar wasn’t talking much, writing on paper, or reaching other key developmental milestones.

A friend recommended the Northside Achievement Zone, which provided grants for the Morgans to enroll their children at [The Family Partnership’s] Children’s First Program. There Jamar will receive occupational and speech therapy in addition to teaching that will prepare him for kindergarten. But already, he has made strides academically.

“It’s like he belongs there,” said his relieved mother.

-Excerpt from the StarTribune, March 10, 2013 by Jeremy Olson. Read full story here.

Annual Report Available

Our 2012 annual report highlights progress made during our first year as a federal Promise Neighborhood. Thanks to your support and the hard work of our collaborative partners, NAZ moved at turbo speed to enroll more families and increase the breadth of programs to support their success. Here are just a few highlights

  • Family enrollment increased by 40%
  • Early childhood education expanded with Race to the Top scholarships that support kindergarten readiness
  • After school and summer programs launched—and youth made significant leaps forward in reading and math proficiency
  • Families secured safe and stable housing
  • Our rigorous quality assurance and evaluation process rolled out

Watch NAZ Overview Video

See the New NAZ Video

Sondra Samuels, RT Rybak, Bernadeia Johnson, and Geoffrey CanadaGeoffrey Canada Visits NAZ

The leader of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Geoffrey Canada, visited Minneapolis on behalf of NAZ April 19. He spoke to business and philanthropic leaders about closing the achievement gap and the importance of focusing on programs that follow evidence-based practices.

Canada said, “When I talk around the country about successful implementations of [the Harlem Children’s Zone] model, I talk about the Northside Achievement Zone. What is going on there is really quite remarkable”.

NAZ and our partners are working with the University of Minnesota to on ground-breaking work to build best practices in the areas of early childhood education, out-of-school time, mentoring, and more. Once the effectiveness of our programs has been thoroughly tested, we intend to introduce them as national models.

Children create a community mural at the NAZ community forumNorthside Community Joins NAZ at 2013 Community Forum

A NAZ community forum was held at our new offices at W. Broadway and Penn on May 23. It was a huge success. A NAZ mother spoke powerfully about transformations underway in her family and in the neighborhood.

Musical artist DessaDessa Gives Exclusive Concert for NAZ

Musical artist Dessa and the Walker Art Center hosted a NAZ “Party for a Purpose” on May 29. The concert supported NAZ Friends of the Future – which is a community of dedicated supporters. For information on becoming a Friend of the Future, please visit

Family Academy GraduationFamily Academy Graduation

In late June, 15 NAZ parents and 22 children graduated from Family Academy. Completing these eight and 12-week programs is an amazing accomplishment because we recruit the hardest-to-reach families who have not attended parent education classes. Strengthening parents’ skills as their child’s first teacher is our first step in closing the achievement gap.

Upcoming Events

Please join us in September for a Brown Bag Lunch event. The topic is pathways to college that are being created to support NAZ youth.

Preparing for College Success Brown Bag Lunch
Wednesday, September 25, noon-1:30 p.m.
NAZ office: 2123 W. Broadway Ave. #100, Minneapolis, MN 55411
RSVP to Mindy Plewacki or call (612) 594-8311

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