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But even as NAZ gears up for its full 1,000-family enrollment by the end of 2015, it faces challenges. One is racial balance. NAZ noted in its federal application that residents of its zone are 47 percent black, 20 percent white, 18 percent Asian 8 percent Latino, and 7 percent other. But 90 percent of the households enrolled in NAZ are black families. “Typically it’s the African-American families that are suffering the most,” said Michelle Martin, NAZ chief operating officer.
Another challenge is money. A program that promises long-term help for parents to get their newborns to college needs a long-term commitment of money.
NAZ is seeking $1.1 million in state funding this legislative session, but CEO Sondra Samuels estimates the program will need $8 million annually from all sources to maintain full enrollment after the federal money is gone.
But success depends in part on convincing funders that NAZ is producing transformative results both for families and an entire community at a scale beyond what it can show to date.
The trick is that for children like Ahzaneia, NAZ defines success as getting kids to college. She would be in the high school graduating class of 2026 — a long time to wait for results.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438