Banyan Community

Our Philosophy

Our Mission and Values

Banyan Community is rooted in the Phillips neighborhood to transform lives by developing youth, strengthening families, and creating community.

Banyan Community’s values are instilled and reflected in anyone who finds enough resonance with our work to stick around for the long-haul: youth, families, community members, staff and board members.

We are a multicultural community built on relationships of trust, compassion and celebration.

We are united by a hopeful vision of the future for our youth, our families and our entire community.

We are growing as leaders and learners by opening doors to new opportunities and taking positive risks.

We believe in the importance of collaboration and shared leadership which is encouraged at all levels, most importantly in the families and individuals with whom we work.

  • Integrity: We are honest, open, ethical, and fair. We build trust through responsible actions and honest relationships.

  • Respect: We value and celebrate the unique and diverse talents, experiences and perspectives of our community.

  • Equity: We value fairness or justice in the way all people are treated.

  • Inclusion: We strive to create a community where all feel welcomed and valued.

  • Diversity: We know it takes people with different ideas, strengths, interests, and cultural backgrounds to make our organization succeed. We encourage healthy debate and differences of opinion.

  • Quality: What we do, we do well.

Asset Based Community Development

Banyan believes that when youth, family, and community are synchronized the greatest progress is made on education and poverty. We utilize an asset-based approach to community development. This stands in sharp contrast to a deficit and liabilities approach, one where everything is broken. Experts define community development as a process that fosters “capacity building both inside and outside of neighborhood boundaries which produces assets that improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents.”

Our Goals

  • Provide opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills, engage in positive relationships with peers and adults, and have new experiences.
  • Provide academic support and accountability so that youth can succeed in school and college.
  • Create an environment of support around youth, through the encouragement and investment of the adults in the community.
  • Strengthen families by connecting them to resources and helping them to avert crisis.
  • Connect neighbors to each other so they can build a strong community.

The Approach

  • Everyone has gifts.

  • Relationships build a community.

  • A neighborhood-centered, inside-out organization is key to community engagement.

  • Leaders involve others as active members of the community.

  • Never do for others what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.

  • Seek ways [to] empower the poor through hiring, lending and investing.

  • Put the interests of the poor above my own (or organizational) self-interest even when it may be costly.

  • Take time to listen and carefully assess both expressed and unspoken needs.

  • Do no harm.

[Collaborative for Neighborhood Transformation; Lupton 2007a; direct quotes and paraphrases]

Our goals are rooted in our Theory of Change, which states that education is one of the most powerful antipoverty strategies. Banyan believes that this strategy has a greater impact in communities formed from the inside out. It builds on existing assets that will increase ownership of and access to various resources that are necessary to thrive (financial, physical, political, social, etc.). Utilizing an asset-based community development approach, we start at the roots by penetrating our neighborhood with inputs that include social capital, best practices, research, lived experience, community leadership and connection, expert staff, partnerships, and financial capital. We then provide interlinked, holistic, and interdependent program activities that help develop youth, strengthening families, and create community.

This focused approach is what brings about our Mastery Outcomes of:

  • reconciled people
  • committed learners
  • leading citizens
  • future oriented

Far more than a youth development program, Banyan is a community development organization that provides a nucleus where families in the Phillips neighborhood connect with and support each other, and where parents are empowered to be deeply involved in their children’s education. Families develop authentic relationships and partnerships with staff, with the outcome of helping youth succeed. Neighbors get to know each other building trust and connections leading to a stronger community and increased social capital.

Equity Statement

Our mission is only possible through a commitment to the values and principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Authentic community development demands we foster relationships and create spaces where everyone can belong and contribute to the shared work of social justice. As a community, we commit to the following:

  • Youth: Develop all youth to learn, grow, and succeed by understanding and appreciating their diverse experiences, personal assets, and aspirations.
  • Family: Strengthen families by removing barriers to opportunities and making equitable resources accessible so all families can thrive.
  • Community: Create inclusive neighborhoods through trust-based relationships that unite our community in a collective pursuit of the common good.

Our Neighborhood

Banyan Community engages families living in the Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis – a high poverty community of color of roughly 100-blocks. Within that space, approximately 2,168 families reside with a median income of $47,702 and 27 percent of all children live at or below the poverty level. Our neighborhood is marked by high crime, high unemployment, low-income and low educational outcomes. Our outcomes stand in stark contrast to our neighborhood.

Learn More About Our Programs

“I love how Banyan supports families and kids. My kids really enjoy coming here and the educators do a great job.”

Banyan Parent

“I am so grateful for Banyan. I trust Banyan and the staff here with my children, which is very important to me.”

Banyan Parent

“Sometimes I think of moving to the suburbs due to the drug and homeless issues but, then I think of Banyan and my neighbors, friends and family and I say – I CAN NEVER LEAVE PHILLIPS.”

Community Council Member

“I’m glad I came to Banyan this summer or else I would just be at home bored watching TV instead of doing fun things like crafts.”

Banyan Youth

“I’m thankful that we have had Banyan to guide us through this college process. We have never done this before, and don’t know anything about college or financial aid. It was good to know that our son had Banyan to help him understand things and explain the steps.”

Banyan Parent

“Banyan teaches you to stand up for what you know is right, to handle the situation in a respectful manner.”

Banyan Youth

“I give to Banyan because I know that my gift will go a long way both in impact with the community as well as effectiveness with a well-run organization.”

Current Donor