Northside Achievement Zone

Recent Articles

Northside Achievement Zone gets mid-term report card

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Almost three years ago, the Spokesman-Recorder reported on the origins and mission of the Northside Achievement Zone, or NAZ, which was described as “a $28 million social experiment” whose goal was “increasing educational outcomes so that kids and families have opportunities that they can point to” over the following five years. (“Northside Achievement Zone envisions a ‘tipping-point’ of success,” MSR February 22, 2012)

The NAZ is focused in an area on the Northside that is 18 blocks by 13 blocks and runs from Penn Avenue east to Interstate 94, and Broadway Avenue north to 35th Avenue. The Wilder Foundation earlier this month released a report card on NAZ’s 2014 performance and gave it an overall good grade, but the report also highlighted areas that need improvement. The key finding of the Wilder report was that the longer children in grades 3-5 were in the NAZ program, the more their scores on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) improved. The report noted that NAZ was on track in that area. Continue Reading →

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H.I.T returns

The H.I.T is back after an extended break. I and the majority of the investigators took sometime off to bring the next generation into this world, but we are back now. First I want everyone to read Jerry Freeman’s book In a Kick-Ass Sentimental Mood. The book is a very good read. I was initially scared to read it when I saw that it was over 700 pages long, but I was pleasantly surprised with how good it was and how it stayed true to Jerry’s social justice ideology. Continue Reading →

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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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Hiring, retaining more teachers of color urged by MPS superintendent

 

 
Some see ‘bold leadership’ in her proposals prior to union negotiations

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Superintendent Dr. Bernadeia Johnson is asking the community to support her new district priorities that “will be a significant, real and challenging shift for our schools and students.”

A key component of this shift that Johnson impassionedly unveiled May 13 at Hennepin Country Central Library in downtown Minneapolis is establishing “an innovative partnership zone.”

“Schools will own critical decisions, like hiring the people that best match the needs of students,” explained Johnson, who noted that separate contracts will be arranged with the teachers at these schools, which the district will identify during the 2013-14 school year and begin implementing in 2014-15. Other key components include:

• Recruiting and hiring more Black teachers and other teachers of color: “Our youth must see themselves reflected in the adults who are working with them on a daily basis,” Johnson said. “We need more quality teachers and staff members who look like the students they serve.”

• Extending the school day, and partnering with local businesses and community groups “for extended and wrap-around services… We want our schools to become community hubs that are open to learners of all ages and whose lives call for educational opportunities beyond the school day…” stated Johnson. Northside Achievement Zone head Sondra Samuels and Harvest Prep School President Eric Mahmoud were among the estimated 250 persons who attended the May 13 invitation-only meeting. Both spoke approvingly of Johnson’s plans after the presentation. 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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Volunteer to learn new career skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are thinking of starting a new career, you may be wondering where to begin. Often, when we decide to transition or take a leap into a new adventure, we are faced with the issue of experience or lack thereof. This hurdle can be daunting and discouraging, but there are many ways to gain new skills and experience while doing good. Why should you consider volunteering? Well, you would have the opportunity to gain valuable experience while meeting contacts in your prospective career field. 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.  

 

To read more about this story, pick up a copy of the MSR newspaper:

http://www.spokesman-recorder.com/msr-print-edition-pick-up-locations/

 

Or become an MSR subscriber:

http://www.spokesman-recorder.com/subscribe/ Continue Reading →

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Chasing the tornado money

Fitz3.50

 

 

 

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

and 

Jerry Freeman

Senior Editor

 

Almost immediately after the tornado struck North Minneapolis in May 2011, the Minneapolis Foundation established its Minnesota Helps Fund and raised $1,756,060 to assist Northside residents. Many other groups and organizations furthered the cause with food drives and fundraising events. On July 14, MSR began a series of stories called “Chasing the Tornado Money” with the following subhead: “Community individuals, local corporations and foundations have contributed well over a million dollars in donations, grants and matching funds to assist North Minneapolis residents affected by the May 22 tornado. Responding to questions from readers about where all these dollars are going, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder decided to provide a community service by reporting, in the interest of transparency, on just where the funds have gone and how they have been used.”

One year and several “Chasing the Tornado Money” stories later, the MSR interviews three individuals representing three major contributors to the recovery effort — the foundation, the participating community organizations, and the Northside Community Response Team — on how they now view the work completed and the relief provided to storm victims through funds totaling more than $2 million.  

The Foundation

“Our fundraising efforts were really concentrated on the first year [of the recovery],” reports Minneapolis Foundation Grantmaking and Special Projects Director Jo-Anne Stately. 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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