Hope Youth Center launched September 2020 as the first true FREE equitable learning pod in Minnesota -- no cost to families and open to all. In addition to providing learning and care for up to 50 students at a time, we served as public health ambassadors by cultivating and providing whole-community health and healing. During the peak of the pandemic, we were unable to locate any facility anywhere that would rent to us. So in our true scrappy and resourceful style, we launched in fancy tents at Phelps Park, one block from George Floyd Square. And then the miraculous happened: Allina Health generously donated a very large, state-of-the-art space in their headquarters, Allina Commons at Midtown Exchange, starting November 2020. The facility was well-ventilated, had a dedicated and secure private entrance, kitchen, art and activity room, large open space, and about 80 office pods plus conference rooms.
Special thanks to Penny Wheeler for believing in us, Allison Pence for hearing and seeing us, Tabitha for protecting us and Shannon for hangin' in there with us. We are forever grateful for your kindness.
Due to our safety protocol, we are proud to say we had ZERO EXPOSURES to COVID-19!
SCHOOL YEAR 2020-2021
Hope Youth Center was open all day, every day throughout the school year all day, every day, NOT a drop-in or after-school program. We were dedicated to supporting full-time distance learners with tech, tutors, tools. Families may not have had secure internet or adult supervision, or may have had a language barrier or multiple siblings and family members in a small home. We provided delicious meals and healthy snacks, enrichment, engagement, art, music, mental health support, etc. in a safe space. 95% of our students were BIPOC and qualify for free and reduced lunch, about 75% had an existing IEP or 504 plan (special ed) or were in the process of securing one. Parents were essential workers, single parents w/multiple children, had language barriers, etc.
SUMMER PROGRAM 2021
Hope Youth Center created a free summer camp, all day, every day with amazingly special field trips -- oftentimes in a party bus! Urban Air, Valleyfair, Minnesota Zoo and Highland Park pool were just some of our stops. Otherwise, you could find us at a local park swimming or rollerskating, ceramic class in our youth garden, or court time at Urban Ventures (thanks Benny!) Free meals and snacks were provided -- and much, much more!
Although we no longer operate out of our insanely amazing space, we do maintain our relationships and remain committed to our community youth. We are planning various events and activities including Urban Air, drone training, photo class, community art mural and more. Stay tuned!
Your contribution will enable us to continue community enrichment, vital youth programming and consistent engagement, scholarships for driver's education, winter and school gear and more.