November Community Partner Grant Recipient Highlights

Each month we highlight Westminster’s community partner grant recipients. This November learn more about the Banyan Community and Avenues for Youth.

Banyan Community

By Suzanne Kelley and Kay Thomas

Banyan is deeply rooted in the Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis–a community of roughly one hundred blocks. According to Minnesota Compass, a project of Wilder Research, close to 28% of the residents of the neighborhood have incomes below the poverty level. In this context Banyan works to transform lives by developing youth, strengthening families, and creating community. After school programs provide homework support and enrichment activities for students. Banyan is built on relationships of trust, compassion, and celebration. Banyan believes that when youth, family, and community are synchronized, the greatest progress is made in raising educational achievement and reducing poverty. Westminster’s funding helps support the adult education program for parents.

In Banyan’s asset-based approach to building community, neighbors connect with and support each other, and parents are empowered to be deeply involved in their children’s education. The educational success of children served by the Banyan speaks to the power of Banyan’s wrap-around support and commitment to walking alongside families from children’s early years through higher education.

Avenues for Youth

By Emily McChesney

Avenues for Youth provides emergency shelter, short-term housing, and support in a safe and nurturing homelike environment to youth experiencing homelessness in Hennepin County. Westminster’s community partner grant is supporting an increase in needs due to the pandemic, as well as supporting onsite medical and mental health care in order to help youth transition positively into adulthood. One of the unique innovative programs Avenues offers is the ConneQT Host Home Program, which provides LGBTQI+ youth, ages 18 to 24, with culturally responsive housing within homes in the community. Avenues has a capital campaign underway for a new building. Current opportunities for Westminster members to get involved include sponsoring a youth for their birthday, being a holiday gift sponsor, or even hosting a youth in your home through the ConneQT program.

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