Banyan Buzz
July 2020
Developing youth, strengthening families, and creating community is the core of Banyan’s mission. This work is the centering of our community healing and community building. We understand with the Covid19 pandemic, the racial and social unrest, and the political uncertainty, that Banyan's consistency in delivering the mission is critical to the well-being of our community. 
On Monday mornings, I have the honor of greeting parents as they drop off their children at Banyan for summer programs. The parents are so very grateful for Banyan. Children gleefully unload from their car - or dash down the sidewalk towards Banyan. Being in-person (socially distant) and reassuring each other that in the midst of all of this, Banyan is present is very comforting and supportive. One parent said, "You all will have programs in the Fall, right?" I said, "Oh yes, one way or another we are right here!" She said, "YES!"
Banyan’s ongoing and important work of developing youth, strengthening families, and creating community carries on, and we are so grateful.
Joani Essenburg
Co-Founder & Executive Director
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Save the Date:
Sunday, October 25th 
Annual Banyan Dinner 
Celebrate (virtually) the partnership of supporters and community members as we work to close the opportunity gap. Partner with us to create transformation in the lives of youth and families. 
Interested in sponsoring the event? Contact us for details.
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Preschool Update 
One more graduation!
We have eight preschoolers graduating and heading off to kindergarten this fall! We will celebrate with a curb-side ceremony in August which will include a graduation certificate, compilation of artwork, and a goodie bag for each graduate.
We’ve accomplished so much with St. David’s Center over the last three years and are immensely proud. This fills the following news with many emotions and wonderful memories: St. David’s Center will not continue to directly provide preschool services at Banyan. The current health and economic crisis is simply stretching resources too far.
We are evaluating transitioning leadership and daily operation of the program to Banyan in 2021. We will continue to work toward our common vision of supporting the essential development and school readiness of young children in the Phillips neighborhood.
We are deeply grateful for everyone who supported a successful launch of preschool services at Banyan, and our families. Without all of us aimed in the same direction at a beautiful goal, we simply would not have seen the results we have. We will continue to update you as we move forward.
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:
Tom Hubler, Chair
Jeffrey Wertz, Vice Chair
Michael O'Keefe, Secretary
Susan Haffield, Treasurer
Iris Cornelius
Mike Cronin
Dan Farley
Stanley Jackson
Judy Pennington
Heidi Thorson
Mike Wilczynski
Carol Wolfe
Welcome Back!
Summer Programs seek to close education gap
Summer programming began at Banyan on June 15, and we are grateful to have elementary, middle, and high school youth back in our building once more. After months of distance learning followed by widespread civil unrest as the result of the killing of George Floyd, we’ve extended our summer programs to maximize engagement while utilizing the guidelines from the CDC and the MN Department of Health to ensure everyone’s safety.
This summer’s program includes:
  • Enhanced ACADEMIC EMPHASIS to help youth close the education gap created by school closures and distance learning.
  • Support of the SOCIAL EMOTIONAL NEEDS youth require after social distancing and neighborhood unrest.
  • Fun and exciting outlets for youth to engage in PHYSICAL ACTIVITIES and play.
Although it’s not our typical summer program, it’s an opportunity to come together as we wait to understand what school will look like this fall.
Summer Highlights:
Elementary students perform The Peacock and the Crane
Banyan's elementary youth are Article Imagegetting theatrical this summer as they put on one of Aesop’s fables,The Peacock and the Crane. Everyone was able to play a role, create a costume, and perform! Activities like these, known as Reader's Theater, support fluency, decoding, and reading comprehension. Plus, through this “hands-on” experience, they created a delightful play for staff and other youth to enjoy! 
Middle School Students Remember George Floyd
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For their service project this summer, middle school youth responded to the death of George Floyd and ongoing police brutality that has impacted our community.  Eighth graders created artwork to be placed at George Floyd’s memorial site while 6th and 7th graders wrote letters to Minneapolis Mayor Frey to share their opinions and experiences. The students remind us all that “someone’s life can never be brought back” while recent events made us truly believe “it’s time for a change.”
Spring Success and Fall Unknowns
Students adapt and Banyan makes plans
Students throughout Minnesota are demonstrating their ability to adapt, and the same is true for Banyan kids. They worked hard during the spring semester by accessing one-on-one tutoring sessions, supporting each other through group video chats, and connecting with teachers. We’re proud that 76% of Banyan youth that attend DeLaSalle High School made the honor roll!

As our minds turn towards fall, like everyone, we’re waiting to learn more about what the school year will look like. In the meantime, we’re working to ensure that all students have access to the technology they need. And, knowing that Banyan youth learn better in-person, we’re considering how we can combine remote services with in-person opportunities that balance health and safety needs for everyone. It will likely be a challenging year, but Banyan youth will be prepared and supported no matter what.
Adaptability is Key in Community
An update from Banyan's Community Team
Adaptability has been crucial to Banyan’s Community Team over the last several months as they listen to and support Banyan families during these unprecedented times. As stay-at-home orders went into effect, families were dealt a new wave of challenges from supporting distance learning to unemployment. By listening, the community team could support families and help them meet their needs.
Lead Family Advocate, Maricruz Arocho, has been utilizing massive text chains to get the word out about resources in the area while helping families fill out applications to receive grocery deliveries, EBT Cards, and other supports. She has organized information sessions for parents to discuss the needs going forward with potential distance learning, while Community and Family Engagement Specialist, Cyndi Hovey, has delivered groceries to families in need. Although schools, parents, and youth will likely be better situated this fall, the health and safety of the community will be a priority as Banyan continues to support the needs of families as social distancing practices remain in place.
Interested in Learning More?
Sharing resources around racism education
Our goals are rooted in our Theory of Change, which states that education is one of the most powerful antipoverty strategies. In the weeks since the killing of George Floyd, Banyan Community has been reflecting on the systemic racism that permeates society and continually impacts Black and Indigenous people and people of color. Banyan plays a role in the ongoing racial equity work in education/youth development, family support, and community building. 
We are reminded that education is a tool for transformation. As a member of our broader community, we encourage you to educate yourself, be part of the discussion and consciousness raising, and remind each other of the importance of education in our lives.
To aid with this work, we’ve compiled a list of resources from various sources for you to reference. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, nor have we vetted every resource, but rather these are opportunities to explore popular and important suggestions in order to further the conversation.
Looking for a New Way to Support Banyan?
Article ImageHave a birthday or event coming up for which you would like charitable donations instead of gifts? Are you planning a great physical feat to raise money for a good cause? If you answered “yes”, you can fundraise on our behalf through JustGiving! 
JustGiving is a fundraising platform where you can fundraise for Banyan and easily share your efforts with friends and family via email, social media, etc. You can fundraise in relation to an event or memorial or simply “do your own thing.” We are so excited to roll out this new option! Visit our JustGiving page to get started, and let us know if you need help!

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