National Funders Invest in Northside Achievement Zone and North Minneapolis

New multi-year grants from Blue Meridian Partners and Ballmer Group will support the organization’s programs serving Northside scholars and families.

To further the organization’s work and commitment to improving academic outcomes for scholars in North Minneapolis, the Northside Achievement Zone recently secured two significant multi-year grants to sustain and grow their impact.

Ballmer Group recently renewed its initial $10 million investment in NAZ, committing to another five years of support. Ballmer Group is a national funder committed to improving economic mobility and opportunity for children and families in the United States. Ballmer Group champions place-based partnerships through direct giving and co-investment with Blue Meridian Partners.

Blue Meridian Partners invested $6 million over two and a half years in NAZ to catalyze and expand their work on the Northside to reach more families and scholars. Blue Meridian is a partnership of results-oriented philanthropists seeking to transform the life trajectories of our nation’s young people and families in poverty by investing in strategies that work.

“We are humbled by the investments of Blue Meridian Partners and Ballmer Group in our Northside community,” said Sondra Samuels, President and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone. “We’re proud to partner with them in our shared mission to achieve substantive, measurable progress against problems that trap America’s young people and families in poverty and limit economic mobility.”

With support from Blue Meridian Partners, NAZ will focus on extending its reach into North Minneapolis through current and new partnerships and involving more parents and scholars in its collaborative. This includes planning and capacity-building efforts within the organization, programs, and partnerships to fill NAZ’s cradle-to-career continuum and deepen the organization’s policy and systems change work in North Minneapolis.

NAZ’s investment is part of Blue Meridian’s Place Matters portfolio, which, according to their website, “aims to improve economic and social mobility in communities across the US through investments in place-based partnerships and catalytic supports.” The Northside Achievement Zone is one of over a dozen place-based partnerships across the country that the Place Matters portfolio, with anchor funding from Ballmer Group, has invested in, totaling over $100 million.

“Sondra and her team at NAZ possess the rare ability to address the immediate needs of children and families they serve in North Minneapolis while simultaneously holding and working towards a vision that has much larger implications for the Minneapolis/St. Paul region and beyond,” said Othello Meadows, Managing Director, Place Matters. “Given our deep belief in the power of place-based work, Blue Meridian Partners is excited to support NAZ on their journey to help share more widely the valuable insights and learnings that emerge from their work.”

Ballmer Group will continue to leverage its initial five-year investment to primarily fund the organization’s work to deepen its programs and partnerships, with the goal of improving academic outcomes for Northside scholars of all ages. This grant will support a wide breadth of activities, including increasing scholars’ accessibility to high-quality early childhood programs, in-school and after-school programs for K-12 scholars, Family Academy parenting classes, and the organization’s work to increase mental health supports across the Northside.

“It has been our honor to partner with NAZ over the past five years, especially during the most recent time of extreme adversity for communities like North Minneapolis,” said Jeff Edmondson, Executive Director, Community Impact. “Ballmer Group has been impressed with the way NAZ keeps the needs of families and scholars at the forefront while never losing sight of their long-term goals. Continuing our investment will allow NAZ to redouble its efforts to improve community-wide outcomes.”

Ballmer Group funds leaders and organizations that have demonstrated the ability to reshape opportunity and reduce systemic inequities. A significant portion of their grantmaking is focused on place-based partnerships, which is how they came to support NAZ. According to their website:  “If evidence shows that place determines opportunity, it makes sense, then, to invest in places furthest from it.”

These multi-year grants build on NAZ’s efforts to sustain its work in North Minneapolis, a key component of the organization’s three-year Strategic Business Plan launched earlier this year. This focus on financial sustainability includes the recently completed “NAZ NOW – Claiming Our Future” major gifts campaign. Through this effort, NAZ raised nearly $8 million in multi-year pledges from 656 individuals, helping create a critical base of individual donors invested in the success of Northside families.