Skip to main content



The PEACE Foundation was created

The goal of this organization was to address violence and disparities in North Minneapolis through city-wide community engagement.

Harlem Children Zone's Founder Geoff Canada is joined by Sondra Samuels, founder of the Peace Foundation, and her husband Don, and Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak.

The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) was born.

Inspired by the success of the Harlem Children's Zone, the PEACE Foundation and 50 local leaders met to explore whether the HCZ could be replicated in North Minneapolis. This exploratory group, co-led by PEACE, formed a collaborative: The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ). The PEACE Foundation changed its name to NAZ and became the backbone of the collaborative. 

Student at NAZ Summer Program

NAZ received a $28 million Promise Neighborhood grant

Under President Obama, the U.S. Department of Education selected NAZ to be one of five "Promise Neighborhoods." NAZ received a $28 million implementation grant to scale-up its enrollment and reach.

Jim Shelton stands at a podium, addressing a crowd of people, in a library.

Organization expansion

NAZ started working with 200 families and 600 children. By 2014, there were 500 families in the fully-operational collaborative.

Future college graduate

Anchor Schools

NAZ is fully operational at anchor schools. 

North Minneapolis teacher sits next to two students in desks

Expanded Funding

As Promise Neighborhood funds were winding down, NAZ secured local corporate, philanthropic and individual investments with the NAZ is Working campaign. This local support was launched with  $6 million from General Mills and Target. These funds sustained and scaled the results realized by Northside scholars and their families through an initial five-year Federal Promise Neighborhood Grant awarded to NAZ in 2011. This significant  investment in the Northside impacted thousands of lives and drove measurable change in the community.

NAZ is Working Campaign Flyer

Organizational values and culture redefined

In 2018, we redefined our values and culture, creating what we call the NAZ F.A.C.T.S. They are: Focusing on Success for Our Children and Families, Advancing Racial Equity for All, Creating A Trusting Village, Transforming Our Community Using Data and Learning, and Supporting our Staff To Be their Best Selves. See more about them here.

A young Black boy wears an orange shirt and smiles, flexing his arms.

NAZ Strives Together

Northside Achievement Zone proudly joins nearly 70 communities across the country who are members of the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network. StriveTogether is a national movement with a clear purpose: helping every child succeed in school and in life from cradle to career, regardless of race, ethnicity, zip code or circumstance.

Mother kisses son on the cheek

Pandemic Relief Funds Provided

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, NAZ invested $4.2M in emergency resources for families. $440K in cash assistance was provided, $325K in rent relief and weekly food delivery to 300 families were just some of the ways NAZ supported the Northside during these unprecedented times. We collaborated with our 30 partner organizations to understand and support the needs of distance learning and the loss of stability created by the pandemic. 

George Floyd Mural
A person gives a thumbs up while loading bags of pre-packaged meals into the back of a car for delivery to families.

NAZ Now: Claiming Our Future Campaign Launched

Determined to meet the moment by driving systemic, transformational change for the children and families of North Minneapolis, we launched NAZ NOW: Claiming Our Future, a year-long, community-based campaign designed to raise $5M through multi-year gifts from 500 individuals. The multi-year pledges acknowledged that our collective work moving forward would be seismic in scale as we assisted families in getting back on their feet financially and helped children make up for lost time academically. It would be an understatement to say that our community of supporters did everything within their power to ensure that years of crises wouldn’t widen the gaps for our scholars and their families. Together, we raised more than $8M from over 700 donors, surpassing our goal by more than 60%.

NAZ Now Campaign

NAZ Launched a New 3 Year Strategic Business Plan

We created a new FY2022-2024 strategic plan to address the academic and economic disruption caused by the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and historic levels of violence on the Northside. We expanded our reach and partner offerings, going deeper and wider with community support. Read the report here.

Justin Jefferson with Kids

First Annual SOARNORTH Gala

NAZ held its first SOARNORTH Gala at the Armory in Minneapolis in celebration of our 10 year anniversary. More than 1,300 guests attended, allowing NAZ to deepen our work with current scholars and reach more Northside families who can benefit from our groundbreaking work.

Two men dance at the after party, both are wearing suits and having a good time.
NAZ CEO and President Sondra Samuels speaks at a podium. She's wearing an evening gown and smiling.