The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) is working to ensure that all children in a geographic “Zone” of North Minneapolis graduate from high school ready for college. NAZ takes a two-generation approach, working directly with children and with their parents, supporting parents to stabilize housing and careers and to become leaders in the community who drive long-term community change. NAZ receives McKnight funding for general operating support and for education and learning programs.
In the winter of 2013, Keenan—a single dad—rented a room from a woman who skipped out of town with the rent money, leaving Keenan and his nine-year-old son trapped in a rented room whose only source of heat came from the two space heaters Keenan had purchased. Keenan reached out to NAZ for help and was connected to NAZ’s Housing Navigator, who then connected him with Urban Homeworks, a NAZ partner organization. Urban Homeworks worked with Keenan to secure new housing with another NAZ partner organization, Project for Pride in Living, and subsidize his rent through the Achieving Through Stability fund. In July 2014, Keenan and his son moved into their new apartment.
With the support of NAZ partner organization Emerge Community Development, Keenan was also able to complete a 20-week construction program at Summit Academy through the Workforce Investment Network (WIN) program. On September 30, Keenan graduated from the construction program with the goal of working on the Vikings stadium. His son, mom, girlfriend, and NAZ connector were there to cheer for him when he went onstage. Housing stability and job training are crucial for building a healthy home to support a child scholar’s academic success. When parents are supported, children are supported.