This year, Banyan Community celebrates its 25th year in the Phillips neighborhood. Many things have changed in two and a half decades, but the key things have remained the same. Banyan Community recognizes that in order for children to thrive and ultimately graduate, go to post-secondary education and succeed as adults, whole families and the larger community MUST be connected and engaged.

Originally founded in 1998 by Tim and Joani Essenburg to provide safety for youth through a neighborhood block club, programing focused on conflict resolution and community building. In 2003 a formal afterschool program to support education was launched, serving 40 youth on one block. 2006 marked the first high school graduate! Expanding its reach, in 2009 the Lighthouse Network block club was founded, growing the service area to five blocks.

As Banyan grew, three different addresses served as gathering places until finally, in 2016, a new home was built at 2526 13th Ave S. Given the assets of the new building, in 2018 programing was expanded beyond youth to the entire community. Classes for adults of all ages were added to the calendar.

Also completed in 2018 was a research study by the Wilder Foundation that found Banyan’s societal return on investment had a benefit:cost ratio of 8:1. Meaning that for every $1 invested there is an $8 aggregate societal benefit return!

After a few challenging years transitioning during the pandemic, 2022 saw Carl Schlueter become the new Executive Director. Today, Banyan Community celebrates the connection of 31 blocks in the Lighthouse Network, supports 178 youth with year-round programs, and rejoices in our 78 high school graduates. Schlueter affirms that “over the next 25 years, Banyan Community is committed to realizing the full promise of its mission through inclusive, representative, and transformative community efforts.”