Minneapolis’ Beacons Network was established in 1998 when Minneapolis was selected by the George C. Wallace Foundation to replicate the highly successful Beacons model of New York City in response to identified academic, social, and developmental needs of youth in low-income communities.
The Beacons model transforms existing infrastructure – public schools – into youth centers that become “beacons” of hope and activity, attracting youth after-school and in the summer. Partnerships between schools and youth development organizations provide high quality afterschool and summer programs that are tightly integrated with the school day.
Fifteen years after its launch in Minneapolis, the local Beacons Network is a public-private collaborative of Minneapolis Public Schools and some of the Twin Cities’ largest and most effective youth organizations including the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, YWCA of Minneapolis, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities and Minneapolis Community Education. Each of the four youth development organizations operates one or more of the eleven Beacon Centers in some of Minneapolis’ most low-income and academically struggling schools.
Beacons has steadily increased the number of centers, beginning with elementary school programs and moving into middle schools and high schools in recent years. Funding from United Way, the 21st Century Community Learning Program, Cargill, General Mills, Youthprise and others provides free, coordinated, and integrated afterschool and summer programming for over 3,000 youth per year.
What did you learn at Beacons?
”I learned to express my thoughts aloud and talk to a big crowd.“