Banyan Buzz
September 2020
It has been a bumpy road this summer with continued social distancing and community unrest. Yet, in the midst of it, we are learning how to adapt and support each other.
During this time, we are blessed to have and rely on familiar connections with parents and community members. The strength of knowing each other and working through crisis together provides an important base to problem solve.
We have increased communication with our parents and community members to ensure needs are being met, and we are co-creating our work together to provide supportive pathways forward. Staff are able to respond proactively to needs or new ideas expressed by community members while also being able to exchange their ideas with parents.
Together, we can create a new normal because we've established trust-based relationships through ongoing communication. Our summer and fall programs are a direct result of trust-based, reciprocal relationships. As you read the newsletter, just imagine all the “supporting conversations” that took place in order to create forward progress. Important conversations are the backbone of Banyan’s work of building a community.
We are grateful for the many conversations we have with donors as well, to support our community building. Without all of our connections, we would not be the Banyan Community.
Joani Essenburg
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Meet our New Staff Members 
We are excited to introduce several new staff members who have recently joined Banyan Community. We're glad to have them working directly with both elementary and middle school youth as they bring great energy in their new roles.
Marilyn Kruy
Elementary Educator, K-2
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Marilyn has the joy of working with Banyan’s youngest elementary youth as the K-2 Educator. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She brings several years of teaching experience to Banyan including some time teaching in South Korea. She loves watching youth grow and enjoys being a part of their learning experience. Marilyn recognizes the important role that Banyan plays in the lives of youth and families and is passionate about lifting up communities.
Ariana Hoyer
Elementary Educator, 3-5
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From summer camps to after school programs, Ariana brings wisdom from many different youth programs to her role as the 3-5 Educator. With her experience in planning and leading youth programs, Ariana has the skills to engage youth in fun and creative ways for all types of learning. She creates a positive space for all youth and helps youth in her classroom overcome barriers. Ariana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and Spanish from Western Washington University.
Kayne Lussier
Middle School Educator
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Kayne is passionate about developing relationships with youth to support positive growth and excitement about learning. He is motivated by Banyan’s commitment to community and family engagement and by the opportunity to walk alongside youth and families in both good and challenging times. Having worked with youth from preschool through middle school, Kayne brings experience as a literacy tutor, youth worker, and student teacher. He holds a Bachelor’s in Education and a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
Jordan Holt
PE Specialist
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Jordan supports the physical and social development of Banyan youth in his role as P.E. Specialist. With experience in out-of-school programs and coaching basketball, Jordan enjoys planning activities to build teamwork and community. He strives to be a role model to help Banyan youth reach their goals. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Kentucky.
Register Today!
Join us (virtually) at our Annual Banyan Dinner 
We are pleased to invite you to join us virtually for the Annual Banyan Dinner! Together, but safely apart, we will celebrate the successes of the past and our vision for the future.
During this time, our holistic community development approach has never been more relevant or necessary. We remain asset-based to develop leaders and strengthen community from within.

Get a closer look at the transformation that is happening in the Phillips neighborhood, and be a part of the success by partnering with us to create opportunity and transform the lives of youth and families in Phillips.
Banyan Community is on a journey to deepen roots in our community and grow our future. But we need you!
Sunday, October 25 at 5:00 PM 

Click here to reserve your free spot! 

Join us virtually
A link to participate will be sent to registered guests prior to the event.
Fall Programs are In-Person!
Supporting Distance Learning and Much More
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Banyan youth are experiencing school in many forms this year. From in-person and hybrid models to full distance learning, we are supporting youth and parents in each one. Banyan’s youth programs have adjusted and increased daily hours for onsite enrichment as well as continuing remote learning supports. We’ve made changes in the building to allow for social distancing and smaller classroom sizes. And, we’re adding additional curricula and academic supports to ensure that all youth can be successful whether they are distance learning, in a classroom, or a little of both.
In addition to academic supports, we’re paying close attention to the social and emotional needs of youth. If we have learned anything, we know that everyone needs some amount of connection. Youth light up when they get to see each other in-person, and as one program participant said to staff during summer programs, “I would hug you if I could.”  Ensuring human connection while keeping everyone safe and healthy is a priority.
While it has been a challenging year for us all, we see resiliency at each turn. We see committed youth engaged in their own academic advancement. 
Community Connections
More Important Than Ever
Article ImageOne of the many adjustments we've made was to our annual National Night Out celebration. Fifteen Lighthouse Network Block Club leaders hosted parties throughout August and September. According to the block club leaders, the best parts of the parties were:
  • catching up with neighbors
  • meeting new folks
  • talking with people
  • connecting with neighbors
  • watching the kids play together
For Banyan, supporting neighbors to safely gather and share an activity, laughs, and food to foster connections was the highlight. Community is strongest when we are all connected. 
In addition, the Lighthouse Network is lifting up issues that are important within the community, including concerns around housing, crime, policing, and racial equity. This year will be full of conversations that move us and our community forward and create deeper connections.
In Memory of Toni Egan
A tribute to her commitment to education
Ed and Toni Egan with Banyan family celebrating high school graduation
Toni Egan had a deep passion and enthusiasm for urban education.  For almost 20 years, Toni and her husband Ed’s involvement at Banyan has impacted the lives of neighborhood youth and families.      
Toni knew education was foundational to success. Her drive and desire to create equitable pathways of success brought her to Banyan. She could see firsthand that our youth (residents of the Phillips neighborhood) had access to quality education because of Banyan’s partnership. Now, more than ever, working against the existing and widening opportunity gap is essential to ensure a brighter future during and after the pandemic.
One year after Toni’s passing, we are honored to celebrate her commitment and dedication to creating equitable education pathways. And we are grateful to partner with a fellow donor to celebrate the life of Toni Egan by supporting urban education at Banyan Community with a matching gift challenge!
Your support of Banyan, above and beyond your annual giving, will be matched—up to $10,000, in memory of Toni. This means if you give $100 more than you gave last year, it becomes $200 more! Your gift will support Banyan middle school, high school, and college youth, ensuring the bright future Toni envisioned.
We are grateful for the opportunity to honor Toni and the transformational impact she and Ed continue to have at Banyan.
Thank you for your consideration of support in honoring Toni's memory. Click here to donate now!
School's Cool
Providing School Supplies
Article ImageThanks for another wonderful School's Cool Program! Banyan youth were ready for the start of the new school year with backpacks, school supplies (including hand sanitizer!), and uniforms.
While the event looked a little different, the drive-up model still gave kids and parents a chance to connect with Banyan staff while picking up school supplies.
Special thank you to the St. Bartholomew Catholic Faith Community team for the quick COVID adaptation and the continued partnership. With these valuable resources, Banyan will provide educational and community support to facilitate academic success.
Vote for Banyan!
QBaskets Inspired Giving
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Banyan Community was nominated to be part of the Qbaskets Giving Campaign. Each year QBaskets donates 10% of total sales to a local non-profit organization – a minimum of $7,500 – and this year we are in the running to receive this amazing gift!
You can help by voting for Banyan Community every 24 hours through October 9th.
It’s simple: VOTE at for Banyan.
Thank you for your support!
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:
Jeffrey Wertz, Interim Chair
Michael O'Keefe, Secretary
Susan Haffield, Treasurer
Iris Cornelius
Mike Cronin
Dan Farley
Stanley Jackson
Judy Pennington
Heidi Thorson
Mike Wilczynski
Carol Wolfe

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