Former businesswoman Sondra Samuels, who runs the nonprofit Northside Achievement Zone, has managed to replace expired federal funding with private dollars from stakeholders who want to see more self-sufficient families and a stronger economy in North Minneapolis.
Bank of America Wednesday named “NAZ” a 2017 winner of its “Neighborhood Builder” award for “its work to close the achievement gap in education and end multi-generational poverty in North Minneapolis.”
The award includes $200,000 and other assistance.
“Northside Achievement Zone is making a huge difference…by creating an environment where the entire family is supported, “said Katie Simpson, Bank of America’s Minneapolis-St. Paul Market president. “We are really pleased to be able to support their work with this grant.”
NAZ was formed several years ago to find solutions to the “achievement gap and end generational poverty in North Minneapolis,” disproportionately populated by low-income African American families It works with 40-plus partner agencies to support families through early-childhood-and-parenting education, job training, housing and other family-stability measures designed to help the children flourish, get through high school and go to college or other post-secondary training, as the family achieves greater self-sufficiency.
A spokeswoman for Samuels said an original $5 million federal grant that ran for five years is being replaced in an annual budget of $11.6 million for 2018 that is 84-percent by private stakeholders.
Ballmer Group, General Mills, the Edward J. Phillips Family Foundation, the Pohlad Family Foundation and Target Corp all have invested at least $1 million in NAZ.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie last summer committed a five-year, $10 million grant to continue the work of NAZ to help 1,000 impoverished families upgrade skills, increase household income and get their kids through school.
“This shift in culture not only benefits families and transforms the community, but just as importantly, helps every child believe he or she can succeed,” Samuels said in a statement. “We are honored to receive the 2017 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders grant, and we plan to leverage this opportunity to advance our mission…”
Since 2013, Bank of America has awarded four other Neighborhood Builders grants in the Twin Cities: City of Lakes Community Land Trust, EMERGE, Second Harvest Heartland, and College Possible.
Bank of America has partnered with nearly 1,000 nonprofits across 45 communities in the United States and invested more than $220 million in communities.

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