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Volunteer mentors needed
Written by Nancy Torrison, NAZ Management Team
Posted  5/18/2011
The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) , modeling itself after Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone, where 100 percent of participating (poor) 3rd graders recently tested at or above grade level in math and 93 percent in reading, has identified a zone in North Minneapolis where family support, high educational expectations and outcomes, and radical compassion will become the rule to allow children to overcome the barriers to success they face.

Individuals and families from North and Northeast often call the NAZ office, intrigued and excited by the possibilities this model and work present to the city of Minneapolis and our state, and wondering how they can get involved as volunteers. They are most often directed to the mentoring action team consisting of the three largest Best Practices Mentoring agencies in the city: Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities, Bolder Options and Kinship of Greater Minneapolis. A fourth partner on the team is the Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota.

There is great need for people to step forward—as individuals, couples, and families—to offer an hour or two a week to support a young person and become part of their successful transition into college bound students. The simple friendship and guidance of a consistent, caring adult friend outside of the family can change life outcomes drastically for children. Studies show that mentored children are 52 percent less likely to drop out of school or get involved with violent behavior and 46 percent less likely to use drugs. Mentoring is an effective way to help kids stay focused on reaching their potential in school and life.

Each of the three mentoring agencies has waiting lists of children living in the zone for whom families have requested a mentor. Each program is unique and prospective volunteers are encouraged to visit the northsideachievement.org website to learn more about the programming and commitment required from each agency.

Minnesota has a reputation for being an innovative, compassionate state—a place where families are supported and education valued. Help us put some muster behind the image—get involved. Join NAZ CEO Sondra Samuels who, with her family, has signed up to mentor. The success of our children depends on it.

Nancy Torrison
Kinship of Greater Minneapolis,
on NAZ Management Team

Northeaster Opinion