NAZ

Recent Articles

U of M takes on Minnesota’s school achievement gap — Community organizations collaborate on Northside research

 
First of a two-part story
 

By Lauretta Dawolo Towns

Contributing Writer

Last spring’s edition of Connect, a quarterly newsletter of the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), announced a major initiative to reduce the Black-White achievement gap in Minnesota. Since it was not apparent in the story what role African Americans were playing in this effort, we decided to inquire further. Our question: Given that African American children are least proficient in reading and math (grades 3-12), where are African Americans involved in the U of M’s efforts to close one of the worst achievement gaps between Blacks and Whites in the United States? We began our look into the U of M’s response to the achievement gap with a leadership profile. Professors Michael Rodriguez, associate professor of educational psychology, Campbell Leadership Chair in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) and Misty Sato, associate professor of curriculum and instruction and Carmen Starkson Campbell Endowed Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development, were featured prominently in the Connect story as initiative leaders. Continue Reading →

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Does Minnesota need a ‘13th’ grade?

 

 

By Donald Allen

Contributing Writer

 

The Minnesota House of Representatives have enacted a bill attempting to establish a “13th” grade pilot project based in north Minneapolis. The bill, H.F. 1149 is part of an education and employability solution for young adults who are unemployed, underemployed and not enrolled in postsecondary education. Co-authored by Senators Jeff Hayden (D-SD 62), Bobby Joe Champion (D-SD 59), Representatives Ray Dehn (D-HD 59B) and Will Morgan (D-SD 56B), the bill is said to potentially impact over 3,000 young adults ages 18-26, placing them on college and career pathways by 2015. It states the commissioner of education shall develop a one-year 13th-grade pilot project, with one site being operated by the Minneapolis Urban League. The “13th” grade proposal is problematic because a one-year pilot program is expected to eradicate generations of educational failures in poor minority communities and the parties involved seem not to understand Minnesota’s employability issues and current status of K-12 education [if any] in the Minneapolis and St. Continue Reading →

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Northside Achievement Zone hiring mostly Northsiders

 
Nontraditional approach seeks workers already ‘connected to the Zone’
 

 

 

By Vickie Evans-Nash 

Editor-in-Chief

 

Lucretia Gill is a connector. She talks to families with children in North Minneapolis to determine their family’s goals, and then she connects them to the organizations that can address the challenges hindering them from reaching their goals. Last year, Gill was a personal care attendant (PCA). She now works for an organization that has added 42 new positions over the past year — 32 of them filled by Northsiders — to the North Minneapolis job market. Gill had previously been one among the hundreds of families in North Minneapolis that the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) is charged with reaching. Continue Reading →

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Entertainer shares his family’s love with Northside youth

 

  Dennis Spears, successful local entertainer and beloved mentor to youth on the North Side, attributes much of his life success to a man who loved him unconditionally, taught him patiently, and provided steady examples of good citizenship and integrity in the way he lived his everyday life. This man was Spears’ grandfather, known to most in his Mangham, Louisiana community as Mr. George. Spears was born in Toledo, Ohio to a single mother he adores and describes as his “biggest fan.” Early on in his life, Spears’ grandparents stepped in to help their daughter and grandson, raising Spears on their farm and teaching him the values of hard work, community service and loving God.  

 

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Geoffrey Canada creates ‘A Small Army of Love’

Harlem Children’s Zone founder gives feedback on Northside Achievement Zone

By James L. Stroud, Jr.

Contributing Writer

 

If a revolutionary is a person dedicated to change in any establishment, like a school system, business, or a government agency, then one might consider the appointment of Geoffrey Canada as the commander and chief of an education reform revolution. On October 2, Canada, who is nationally recognized as an educator, mentor, children’s education advocate, poet and the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, accompanied by U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), made a visit to the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) in North Minneapolis. NAZ is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education project that was formerly the Peace Foundation, which had a focus of stopping violence in North Minneapolis. Since changing to NAZ, their goal is to replicate the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone. Lead by President/CEO Sondra Samuels, the mission of the NAZ is to build a culture of achievement in a geographic zone in North Minneapolis to ensure that all youth graduate from high school college ready. Continue Reading →

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Wanted: Northside residents with passion for helping families

 

 
African American community members deliver message of the Zone
 

By Vickie Evans-Nash

Contributing Writer 

Later this summer, the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) will be hiring just under 30 people to fill new employment slots. They are looking for people who have a firm understanding of the community and the families they will be recruiting to be a part of the NAZ initiative to support the families until their children enter college. People like Andre Dukes. Born and raised in South Minneapolis, Dukes is an assistant pastor at Shiloh Temple church who has always had an interest in reducing youth violence. A few years ago he developed a team of residents who went knocking on the doors of Northside residents to talk to them about safety and non-violence. Continue Reading →

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Northside Achievement Zone envisions a ‘tipping-point’ of success

 

By Vickie Evans-Nash

Contributing Writer

 

Over the next five years, just over 1,000 families in an 18-by-13-block area of North Minneapolis will be participating in a $28 million social experiment. What is at stake is much more than money; what is at stake is the future of these families’ 3,000 children, and perhaps, insofar as it could become a model for other such efforts, the futures of countless more families and children. It started with Michelle Martin and Minneapolis City Council Member Don Samuels founding the Peace Foundation in 2003. Martin served as the organization’s original executive director. The Peace Foundation’s mission was to combat violence in North Minneapolis by first determining what was causing higher crime rates. Continue Reading →

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Contract for Student Achievement can transform our public schools

 

 

Today the Black community has an opportunity to take real leadership in ending our cities’ persistent educational crisis. We have an opportunity to change the game by impacting the negotiations that are currently happening between the Minneapolis Public School District and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT). We can do this by individually and collectively raising our voices in support of the Contract for Student Achievement (CSA). CSA is a manifesto created by active parents, citizens and stakeholders. It calls on the district administration and MFT to “negotiate a different kind of contract — one that recognizes the academic crisis in our schools and makes student achievement the top focus.”

As stated in the CSA, “The teachers’ contract currently being negotiated represents almost $240 million in annual wages and benefits and directly controls who is teaching our children in the classroom. Continue Reading →

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