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MN Antipoverty Group Boosts Parental Education

Dozens of Minnesota parents are graduating from a cradle-to-college program aimed at curbing generational poverty. (NAZ)
Dozens of Minnesota parents are graduating from a cradle-to-college program aimed at curbing generational poverty. (NAZ)
January 29, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Dozens of Minnesota parents will be honored this weekend by one of the state's most ambitious antipoverty community organizations.

The Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis is hosting its Family Academy graduation ceremony on Saturday at Patrick Henry High School. Sondra Samuels, NAZ president and CEO, said the idea is to help support and celebrate parents who are focused on academic achievement for their children.

"Parents are our leaders, and they are leading the way in terms of parenting education," she said, "really finding out all that they need to know in order to put their child on a college trajectory."

Samuels said many of the parents spent several months in education programs hosted by NAZ, where they worked with family coaches on topics such as career and financial training and behavioral-health counseling.

The organization is backed by several health and philanthropy groups, including the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. Allison Corrado, a program officer for the foundation, said they appreciate the work NAZ does to help reverse the trend of generational poverty in north Minneapolis.

"We know that parents who haven't finished high school are more than six times as likely to be in poor or fair health as children of college graduates," she said. "So, they really are grounded in education as a means to move people out of poverty and improve health."

The work at Northside Achievement Zone is modeled after a similar program in New York's Harlem neighborhood. At the local level, Samuels said, more than 40 organizations are working with NAZ to help low-income families create a cradle-to-college mindset. Samuels said she believes the idea of supporting a parent's educational success also can help other communities across Minnesota.

"So, this is a celebration of the effort that's going into transforming a community," she said, "and really building on all the assets of both our parents and our children."

Family Academy information is online at northsideachievement.org.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN