Banyan Community is rooted in the Phillips Neighborhood to transform lives by developing youth, strengthening families, and creating community. Banyan Community began as an idea, when founders Tim and Joani Essenburg moved into the Phillips neighborhood in 1990. The Essenburgs are committed to seeing their community change through the gifts, leadership and vision of the residents themselves.
The Essenburgs began by building relationships with their neighbors, and out of those relationships a block club was born. As neighbors got to know each other, both adults and youth began to express interest in creating new youth programs. In 1997, a Kids Club program was launched, providing a safe place for kids to learn conflict resolution and community building.
Programs grew and Banyan Community incorporated as a tax-exempt nonprofit in 1998. Development of other new programs followed: an after school program was launched and ASPIRE (high school tutoring/support) was started for high school youth when Banyan staff saw the need to provide more structured academic accountability.
The leaders of Banyan Community recognize that in order for children to thrive and ultimately graduate, go to college and succeed as adults, whole families and the larger community must be connected and engaged. This philosophy is at the heart of all of Banyan’s programs.