Northside Achievement Zone gets mid-term report card

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)

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Northside Voice: Lydia

This story told through a transcript from an interview with Lydia.I have always worked all my life, but a lot of personal problems led me to lose my job. After missing two paychecks I was in a real deep problem, I owed rent, I didn’t have any money to do anything. So I lost my home shortly after I lost the job, and I was pregnant during the time. I had to go apply for AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children).This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.Public assistance asked, ‘Were you trying to go back to school?’ and I said, ‘I didn’t know that it was an option for me.’ They offered a couple of classes for construction as well as healthcare. Continue Reading

University of Minnesota takes on school achievement gap — Community organizations collaborate on Northside research

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?This is the first of a two-part story.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.We found African Americans involved indirectly in partnership rather than in the leadership of the initiative. Perhaps the job of the newly appointed vice president for equity and diversity, Dr. Katrice Albert, will change the landscape a bit. Continue Reading

Northside Achievement Zone hiring mostly Northsiders, nontraditional approach seeks workers already ‘connected to the Zone’

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. Through NAZ, her son had attended a childcare facility that prepared him for kindergarten through a Race to the Top scholarship. Her other three children attend NAZ anchor schools within the Zone, the geographical boundaries of the city that NAZ works within.“I came in contact with NAZ through my children’s school at Harvest Prep,” Gill explains. Continue Reading