I wanted blog post 2,000 to be something important and worthwhile, so here it is...
The PEACE Foundation--which has done so many vigils for the victims of shootings in North Minneapolis, has announced a major shift in its mission. Here is a release which Sondra Samuels sent out some days ago...
Ambitiously six years ago, Michelle Martin, Kevin Reich, and my husband, Don Samuels, created the PEACE Foundation—a grass roots movement made up of people across race, class and geography, committed to working together to end local violence. Their bold vision: to end local violence, starting on the Northside. Their approach: to mobilize a movement of caring community members who would come together with the dual task of healing racial wounds while preventing the psychic and lethal wounding of the children and adults living in the most vulnerable pockets of North Minneapolis.
Delivering Results. Demonstrating Hope
Although 2010 has had a painful beginning, with one homicide in North Minneapolis and a total of five city-wide, BECAUSE of OUR work TOGETHER: Crime is down 25% in North Minneapolis from two years ago, and homicides are down 75% in North Minneapolis from two years ago – a development which serves as the leading correlate to the overall decline in homicides city-wide.
The reason the PEACE Foundation has been delivering results is because of YOU—the neighbors, youth and organizations of North Minneapolis, allies from the broader community, volunteers, funders, as well as a host of spiritual supporters. Together we have served as "public demonstrations of hope" by:
Breaking Our Isolation and Creating Community Celebrations—In order to bring Northsiders together with each other, and the broader community, we created Northside community celebrations, such as, the PEACE Ball, GO! 5K Fun Run/Walk and FLOW: Northside ArtCrawl.
Going to the Places of Greatest Need—All of our events and outreach efforts - from PEACE Across the Northside, to Street parties, Vigils and Rapid Response efforts, happen in areas where crime and violence is the highest.
Changing the hearts of People and then Policies—Once hearts are changed policies will change. Over the years we've grown in our understanding and concern for each other through your participation in our Forums, race dialogues, vigils, and bus tours. These activities have led to successful advocacy for the Northside and relationship building with key elected officials. In 2009, our collective work led to the MN legislature passing a bill which redefines youth violence as a public health issue.
Working Together Across Divides—Through our shared work, mothers of murdered children and suburban churchgoers stood arm in arm at vigils and at the capitol, signaling a collective response to tragedy with a promise of solutions to come. And this coming together has produced significant results! It is to that end that we have built coalitions across race, class, geography, and organizations. Some of the coalitions we have helped to launch include, Ally groups, Northside Policy Action Coalition, Northside Youth StandUp!, the Hope Collaborative, FLOW and GO! Planning Committees, and now - the Northside Achievement Zone.
A Major Transition to the Future of Our Movement—The Northside Achievement Zone
When the PEACE Foundation began, we knew that violence was not the problem, but instead a symptom of a larger problem. As crime and violence have declined on the Northside, it has become clear that poor educational outcomes and life prospects for low-income youth of color in the community, is, in fact, the underlying issue that must be addressed. It is to that end that two years ago, 50 organizations that serve youth and families on the Northside, came together to form a collaborative effort that will guarantee opportunities for all children growing up in the areas of the Northside most impacted by crime, violence and poverty.
This effort, called the "Northside Achievement Zone", or "NAZ", is inspired by the success of the Harlem Children's Zone. Focusing on a defined geographic area or "zone" in the heart of North Minneapolis, its goal is to create a "Culture of Achievement," guaranteeing college-readiness for every single child living in the zone. As the effort continues to take shape, its enormous potential is receiving national attention. Simply put, NAZ has the potential to forever change the lives of North Minneapolis children-the ones who need it most-for the better.
NAZ — The New Key Initiative of the PEACE Foundation
When NAZ was started, the PEACE Foundation was designated as a co-leader of the initiative, and our Executive Director, Michelle Martin, served as Co-Chair of the effort throughout the two-year planning process. During that time, as the work of the collaborative grew, so did our entire organization's involvement. Because of our commitment to the vision of NAZ, much of our energy and resources went towards its' goals. As the work in the zone continued to evolve, it became abundantly clear that there would need to be one strong lead organization carrying out the work of the collaborative. Consequently, leadership of the collaborative agreed that the PEACE Foundation should be that organization. Today we are proud to announce that the Northside Achievement Zone is now our primary initiative.
Currently we are in a transitional phase—shoring up our internal structures, ensuring transparent operations and fiscal accountability, restructuring our Board of Directors, and aligning our entire organization with the work of NAZ.
What This Means to YOU—Our PEACE Foundation Partners
The major change for you is that our approach to ending violence is shifting to one of promoting achievement. We will prevent the seeds of violence from even taking root! We will continue partnering with faith organizations and businesses, conducting vigils, bus tours, coordinated policy advocacy, and community building events... all now with an eye toward promoting educational achievement in the Zone. However, in addition, we will also be increasing our capacity to recruit volunteers to mentor, tutor and serve children and families in the Zone.
The bottom line is that—WE NEED YOU NOW MORE THAN EVER!
Finally, taking the lead in the Northside Achievement Zone collaborative is both humbling and exciting! Never before have so many organizations and people come together to focus like a laser beam on the children in one geographic area of the greatest need. I believe we can change the course of their lives and in so doing, the life of our entire community—both the Northside and the entire region. But we cannot and will not do it in isolation. We need many more leaders, supporters and workers across race, class, and geography to work together for our children's achievement and success!
Please join us!
(Blog post by John Hoff, blogging from Dallas, Texas)