Banyan Buzz
January, 2015
Banyan Community invites you to join us under the Banyan tree as we share our joys, challenges and life events while living and growing together! Banyan Buzz is our attempt to bring you into the center of our conversations to celebrate with us. Enjoy!
Joani Essenburg, Co-Founder & Executive Director
Banyan Met Year End Funding Goals!
Thank YOU!
Article Image Banyan is truly blessed to have the support of so many individuals, churches, corporations, and foundations giving their dollars to make our work a reality.
2014 closed strong and gave Banyan a boost to start 2015 in a great position! In the words of one such donor:
"Keep up the great work. I am a believer in your mission."
Thank YOU for continuing to believe in Banyan!
Upcoming Events
Mark your calendar
April14 - Business Leaders Breakfast
A gathering of 200+ business leaders coming together in support of Banyan and to hear from a notable local business leader. Interested in sponsoring the event? Contact us for details.
8th Graders Shadow
Article Image Banyan 8th grade youth are working on the next piece of their educational plan - evaluating high school options. The first step was to shadow their 9th grade Banyan friends at DeLaSalle High School.
Shadow Days give them a feel for the rigor of high school, the culture of the school, and a chance to see Banyan high schoolers in action.
Growing Responsibly
September Groundbreaking Scheduled
Article Image We are now $550,000 away from our fundraising goal to break ground on a permanent home that will double our capacity (and serve the 100+ youth on our waiting list) to develop youth, strengthen families, and create community in the Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis.
Thank you if you have already made a financial commitment to Banyan's future. If you haven't joined in yet, there is still time to make a gift or pledge to ensure a new and permanent home for Banyan. Contact us to make your gift today.
Banyan Board of Directors
Banyan's Board of Directors is an active and engaged group ready to connect with you about resources for Banyan's future. Feel free to contact us.
Banyan Board:
Kyle Didier, Chair
Sheila Jones, Vice Chair
Sue Jensen, Secretary
Sven Wehrwein, Treasurer
Dan Farley
Trevor Knight
Barry Lieske
Ayo Olawole
Brian Provost
Mark Schulze
David Tynes
Schedule Your Recurring Gift Today
Why give this way as opposed to another method? Consistency! Predictablity! You understand the need for good management, budgeting and stewardship of funds. A recurring gift is a "Living Endowment" which can be used to develop youth, strengthen families, and create community.
Recurring gifts (either bank draft or credit card) provide Banyan with consistent and predictable monthly funding to support our programming.
Fine print: this method of giving can be cancelled or changed at any time. Paying by bank draft or credit card is safe and secure. 
Support Banyan Online
Banyan now accepts donations online! This is a convenient and secure way to support the work of Banyan. Give it a try!
Happy New Year!
Banyan is Future Oriented
This year Banyan will be “Building on our Strengths” as we anticipate a ground breaking in the fall. This is a monumental year for Banyan as we now create a permanent home for Banyan youth, families and community to thrive. This new year will also bring the largest number of seniors to graduate from high school in one year, bringing total graduates to 32 from the inception of the Higher Ground Scholarship and ASPIRE! program. We continue to take on great challenges as we work together to build a strong community in the midst of the currents of poverty that pull us in a downward cycle. We realize again and again that we are stronger together than apart. It is in the midst of this great struggle that we make progress and understand how sweet it is to celebrate another new year together. Join us as we take on 2015!
Let Your Light Shine
Kid's Club begins tonight!Article Image
Kid’s club begins in January of each year. The kids (elementary and middle school) and leaders are so excited to be starting another year! Kids Club started BEFORE Banyan in 1997 in the Essenburg Home. During the 18 year journey hundreds of kids have enjoyed songs, verses, prayers, and Bible stories. Kids Club concentrates on Character Building. This year’s theme is “Let your Light Shine!” We will be talking about how we can use our God given gifts to shine in our family and community. Carma Gjerning will come again to tell stories! This is a favorite time in the Banyan Season.
We now have TWO Elementary Educators!
We are very excited introduce our new Elementary Educator, Jenny Neidich! She is a licensed teacher and a graduate of Augsburg Article Image
College. She has worked as a summer program manager in Texas, as well as a kindergarten teacher in Minneapolis. Jenny is a passionate educator who will bring many wonderful opportunities for the youth at Banyan. She joins Bethany Theobald in running the After School Program for elementary youth. Welcome onboard Jenny!   
Middle School Listening Circles
Focus on Social-Emotional Learning
Middle school youth at Banyan are pretty special and its reflected in programming specific to 6th, 7th and 8th graders. Youth learn about a wide range of careers each year through workplace visits, and make small scale engineering projects with some of Banyan’s most committed volunteers. Middle schoolers paint impressive works of art that tour around various churches and schools, AND canoe down class-three rapids in the middle of Wisconsin’s North woods.
However, there is one unique program that middle school youth get excited about every week. It doesn’t get much publicity, but it is at the heart of our middle school programs. Every Tuesday middle schoolers divide up into two Listening Circles; the boys meet at the Banyan House, and the girls meet at the Banyan Center. This critical forum gives youth the opportunity to talk about adolescence, aspirations, dreams and the challenges that threaten those dreams.
The small group setting helps Banyan staff earn the trust of the youth, and it aids in creating a setting where kids are comfortable opening up. Listening Circles focus on social-emotional learning, which is key to long-term success in every part of life.
Banyan Leads Financial Literacy Class
With help from the Minnesota Council on Economic Education
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Banyan is rooted in a low-income neighborhood. All of our work takes place within that context and needs to account for the strained resources of our youth and families. Banyan families have had to learn how to stretch a paycheck as far as it will go…and then stretch it some more! Some are experts at navigating every available support for their family. Others are stretched so thin that they don’t know how each month will end.
Within this context, Banyan ventured into a partnership with The Minnesota Council on Economic Education (MCEE) and received a grant for “Community Mentorship for Financial Capability”, which directly funded a series of financial literacy sessions for Banyan families. These sessions were well attended, and powerfully displayed the level of trust which Banyan families extend to everyone in the Banyan Community. Adults shared very openly regarding their financial challenges, and were able to learn some valuable strategies for establishing and keeping a budget that reflects individual values. Participants ranged from 19 to 60 years old, and reflected much of the diversity in our community. What attendees held in common was their willingness to open up and learn from one another.
When School is out, Banyan is in!
Closing the Achievement Gap
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This short little phrase gets repeated a lot here, simply because we have so much going on. Programs go year-round with only brief breaks to catch our breath. When the school day ends, we’re just getting started. When the school year wraps up, we’re gearing up for six weeks of summer programs and four different camp sessions! Finally, when schools take a day off for teacher development or book keeping, we take the opportunity to go on field trips and expose Banyan youth to all kinds of special events. We did take a bit of a break for Christmas and New Years, but between those two holidays we had 45 youth join us for fun, games, food, bowling and a trip to the science museum! We use school release days throughout the year to overcome the achievement gap, one fun-filled day of learning and community-building at a time.
Partnership formalized with Midtown Neighborhood Improvement Association
Goal - increase Lighthouse Network presence in Midtown
Article Image Lighthouse Network equips neighbors to build community leadership through block clubs. Through these efforts, residents are moving from being simply users of their community toward being leading citizens or designers, who are helping to shape and design their community into a place where residents thrive and have a sense of hope about making positive change.
The Midtown Neighborhood Improvement Association has taken notice of the postive impact of the Lighthouse Network. For the first time in a formal fashion, we are working together to: Increase the number of registered active block clubs in the Midtown neighborhood; Develop leadership at the block and neighborhood level; and Build a strong community.
Over 40 College Applications Submitted!
8 Seniors, 5 applications each = possibilities!
Article Image Banyan seniors each submitted a minimum of 5 college applications - before Thanksgiving! The seniors have been visiting college campuses and exploring career opportunities since Middle School at Banyan. For some, narrowing down the list of schools to apply to was the challenge!
It is a very exciting time at Banyan, college acceptance letters are coming in every day - 16 so far. We are so proud of the hard work each one has put in to get to this point. Next step, making the choice of which offer to accept!

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Address postal inquiries to:
Banyan Community
2529 13th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55404