Students in the Hawthorne and Jordan neighborhoods of North Minneapolis will be in for a warm welcome when they head back to school the first week of September. Students in the Hawthorne and Jordan neighborhoods of North Minneapolis will be in for a warm welcome when they head back to school the first week of September. Residents and employees of over 15 local organizations and businesses will be at bus stops greeting students and parents, and passing out school supplies, refreshments and local resource information. Participants will hold signs that say “The Community Supports Our Students.”
The “Adopt-a-Stop” idea is being spearheaded by Michele Braley with Hennepin County’s Village Social Services and by Project Empowerment in response to some drug activity that was occurring at 31st St. and 6th Ave.—also a student bus stop. Project Empowerment is a collaborative of agencies, churches and government on the Northside that has met weekly for 5 years that seeks to build community and support families and youth in North Minneapolis.
“We started hearing about drug activity and concern for the kid’s safety at this corner,” said Braley. “We wanted to get people out to help support the parents and kids at this bus stop.”
The original idea was to have a presence on this corner specifically, but the project has received so much community support, that it has grown to include over 20 bus stops throughout North Minneapolis. Participants thus far include: Minneapolis Urban League, Northside Family Connection—Way to Grow, Fairview Park, Turning Point, Northside Residents Redevelopment Council, Phyllis Wheatley, North Memorial Family Practice, Project 504, Kwanzaa Church, MAD DADS, Pilot City Neighborhood Services, Oasis of Love, People Incorporated – Anchor House, Salvation Army, Hennepin County – Village Social Services, and a number of individuals.
“We need to be as encouraging as possible to our students. After a long summer, it is that time of year where they need a little extra encouragement to go back to school and become the future leaders of our community,” said Wesley Smith, public advocacy director of the Minneapolis Urban League and an Adopt-A-Stop participant. “It is our duty to be present, to enforce safety at the bus stops, and to help oversee their education in any way we can.”
The initiative offers community members a chance to celebrate our school children and show support to their families, said Braley, who says groups will be out in the morning and in the afternoon as kids return home. While every group will be doing something slightly different at the various stops, some ideas include offering juice and donuts, passing out pencils and erasers, handing out information on after school activities, and encouraging parents to get involved in their local block club.
“We want students and parents to know that we are here to support them and their child’s education,” said Braley, who says that all participants will be holding signs and wearing name tags to help parents know that this is a safe event happening.
Other individuals and organizations are encouraged to participate. Groups can commit to meet school buses in the morning or afternoon on the first day of school or for the entire first week of school. To find out how you can get involved, please contact Michele Braley at 612-287-7078 or via e-mail at Michele.Braley@co.hennepin.mn.us.