All Banyan Programs

Banyan’s youth programs are based on community input and staff expertise, blended with current research on the assets that children need to develop a positive self-image, learn social and life skills, succeed in school, and ultimately overcome the cycle of generational poverty. The leaders of Banyan know 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 is the successful blend that Banyan has honed over the last 20+ years that has led to outstanding outcomes.

Parents are drawn to Banyan because we are viewed as a safe place where their children can grow and thrive. The programming offered for youth year-round and throughout their educational careers addresses inequities in academic opportunities that are impacting low-income students, particularly students of color. Adult education programs help to elevate both knowledge and confidence. And community outreach and gatherings strengthen the neighborhood building trust and connection.

Youth Development Programs

Banyan inspires young people to invest in themselves in education and community. Youth are prepared to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through programs that cultivate social, emotional and educational growth. Our youth have fun while they develop into Committed Learners and Reconciled People.


Stay tuned for more information!


Thrive is our after school program for grades K-5. Programming occurs every weekday and during winter and spring breaks. Educators use an interdisciplinary approach highlighting a new theme in a different field each month (e.g. engineering). The program helps youth succeed in school by encouraging consistency in homework completion and attendance. In addition, staff work with parents in supporting their youth and connecting with school resources.

The program includes activities focused on:

  • Educational enrichment
  • Homework help
  • Teamwork and social skills
  • Social and emotional learning
  • Leadership
  • Cultural awareness
  • Physical activity
  • Healthy, hearty meals
  • Relationship building with young adults from the community

Sample Outcomes:

  • 90% participate in educational enrichment activities
  • 100% of youth report feeling safe at Banyan
  • 100% engage in new experiences
  • 90% of youth say they have support from adults other than their parents, at least sometimes
  • 100% are on track to successfully transition to middle school


SOAR (Southside Adolescents Rising), our middle school program for grades 6-8, includes enrichment each weekday and during winter and spring breaks. Youth learn about life skills, educational planning, career paths, service learning, and teamwork with adventure education. College readiness at this stage centers on exposure and awareness. Volunteers and special guests speak to SOAR youth about education and career options, and staff and volunteers help youth identify their passions and skills.

SOAR Middle School youth are supported in the following ways:

  • Creating paths of educational success by teaching study skills and exploring different careers.
  • Facilitating opportunities for youth to develop positive values and identity.
  • Teaching youth to set goals and a pathway to achieving them.
  • Helping youth develop life skills for future independence.
  • Empowering youth through service-learning opportunities, where youth plan and lead their own service projects.
  • Improving academic performance for middle school youth by teaching parents how to advocate for their children in school, and providing homework help to youth after school.

Sample Outcomes:

  • 75% are capable of helping team members complete tasks
  • 100% of youth believe they are able to complete a post-secondary education
  • 80% of youth feel positive about their future
  • 90% can define community service and explain why it is important

Cool Off Days

Grades K-5

Cool Off Days for youth in grades K-5 builds on Banyan’s school-year programs, consisting of five weeks of summer activities and one week of residential camp. Few families in the Phillips neighborhood have the income to provide their children with summer enrichment programming or summer camp. Banyan gives youth the chance to do both, at no financial cost to the families. Youth attend field trips and engage in physical activity and hands-on learning. Activities focus on building social and intellectual skills.

Sample Outcomes:

  • 100% participate in physical activities
  • 100% are socially engaged with peers
  • 100% will engage in new experience
  • 80% will take positive risks

Grades 6-8

Cool Off Days for youth in grades 6-8 builds on Banyan’s school-year programs, consisting of five weeks of summer activities and one week of residential camp. Few families in the Phillips neighborhood have the income to provide their children with summer enrichment programming or summer camp. Banyan gives youth the chance to do both, at no financial cost to the families. Youth attend field trips and participate in service projects, career exploration, work place visits, and science projects. Youth also engage in an experiential engineering project with the guidance of a team of engineers, architects, and inventors (called Tronix). Activities focus on building social and intellectual skills. Summer Academy supports 8th graders transitioning to high school with a focus on English, critical reading, writing and grammar, contextualized reading, and other supports to bolster success in high school.

Sample Outcomes:

  • 95% socially engage with their peers
  • 100% identify the challenges in their community
  • 85% work with team members to accomplish goals
  • 80% express positive thoughts about their future

Kids Club

Kids Club is our Christian faith discipleship program for elementary and middle school youth that occurs each January through May. Participation in this program is optional. Kids club creates an environment where youth are supported and are encouraged to ask questions and grow in faith. Each Kids Club season has a key verse that suggests a theme for the year. Youth experience a variety of Bible lessons around the theme, sing worship songs, and pray with and for each other. Kids Club evenings also provides lots of extra fun with games, crafts and special snacks.

An important part of this program is the transition youth make from being served to serving. Kids Club is the first volunteer opportunity for many of Banyan’s high school youth. Youth begin by finding a mentor and eventually become a mentor to those younger than themselves. The model has come full circle!


ASPIRE! is our intensive high school academic support program that engages youth through the critical high school years. ASPIRE! is led by trained staff and supported by expert volunteers (engineers and business leaders) to help youth with the homework load and to build relationships and explore careers with business and educational leaders. Students benefit from one-on-one tutoring, mentoring, strong accountability, and parental involvement. This program has resulted in a 98 percent high school graduation rate for more than 15 years.

Higher Ground Scholarship

The Higher Ground Scholarship Program funds tuition for Banyan youth to attend DeLaSalle High School. Attending a high performing school prepares our high school youth for college and sets them apart as community leaders.

Sample Outcomes:

  • 100% of parents attended parent-teacher conferences
  • 100% of youth graduate from high school
  • 100% of youth develop a college plan
  • 75% of parents visit a college campus with their youth by the end of their senior year

Banyan Scholars

ASPIRE! graduates receive support in college through the Banyan Scholars program. Our goal is to encourage and provide resources to students throughout college. We connect youth to on-campus resources, provide FAFSA support and financial aid navigation, and help Scholars develop a graduation plan. With the support of Banyan, parents learn to help their first-generation students navigate college, while staff help students connect to internships and other networking opportunities.

Sample Outcomes:

  • 90% of parents report feeling supported in the transition into college
  • 100% of youth declare a major by the end of their 2nd year
  • 100% of youth report accessing resources at their school
  • 75% are actively involved in serving their community (school, home, church, Banyan)

Family Strengthening Programs

Banyan brings hope to families by strengthening the relationships between parents and children. Our families have close bonds that enable us to work together toward a brighter future. Banyan helps parents become advocates for their children in all arenas of life, while children become an inspiration to their parents. Banyan families are Future Oriented, because they see that their future is bright.

Family Support

Building relationships and connecting community are the focus of our family support, and what makes Banyan unique. Through annual home visits, everyday interactions, special events and outings, every Banyan family receives support from a Family Advocate. Banyan staff works alongside families using a trust-based approach that acknowledges their own self-efficacy and strength, which leads to greater personal development. Examples include:

  • Connect families with supportive resources (housing, employment, and healthcare, legal assistance, etc.)
  • Provide educational support and increased understanding of academic systems navigation for youth and families
  • Encourage relationship development via events, outings and adult education classes

Home Visits

We connect to families directly through asset based home visits. Every Banyan family has at a minimum one home visit per year, whether there is a crisis going on or not. In our home visits, we seek to find the strengths that exist and we mobilize those strengths for the benefit of the larger community. In this way, we build a significant amount of trust with parents, and begin to find who may be the unlikely key players in building community in the Phillips neighborhood.

Sample Outcomes:

  • 100% of parents commit to supporting their child’s positive development
  • 75% of families are able to identify their strengths/assets
  • 80% report trusting Banyan families a lot
  • 75% of families believe they can have an impact in making their neighborhood a better place to live

Community Connecting Programs

Creating community is an essential part of Banyan’s mission and is inseparable from the strength of our families and the success of our youth. Banyan connects members of the neighborhood with each other, creating bonds that encourage communication and belonging. Building trust between residents, and training leaders on every block, brings hope and safety to every home. Banyan acts as a ‘resource hub’.

Lighthouse Network

Lighthouse Network

Lighthouse Network is our block club program that nurtures community, promoting safety and communication on each block. The network now includes 34 blocks with 68 leaders reaching out to 3,400 residents. The program engages residents to advocate, organize, and understand how systems work, and creates opportunities for learning and space for engagement.

Gathering Events

Community Gatherings take place four times a year and include youth, families, and staff to build relationships and experience positive shared experiences. Examples of Gatherings events include a family carnival, day at the lake/barbecue, roller-skating, and apple picking.

Community Council

Banyan’s Community Council is made up of twelve community residents who inform and guide our work. Parents and youth are co-creators of our work and are engaged in a variety of ways to identify needs, priorities, and improvements within the organization and in the community. It also builds confidence in our adults and strengthens their leadership skills as they acknowledge and exercise their own voice and value.

Banyan Community Outreach Leadership Minneapolis

CLEC (Community, Leadership, Education, and Connection)

CLEC is the primary component of our adult programming, which offers opportunities for adults to engage, learn, and connect with other Banyan parents. The adult offerings fall into three categories: 1) Connect groups where parents connect, get to know each other, and enjoy a shared activity; 2) Classes where parents learn together in a curriculum-driven, multi-session course; and 3) Training groups where parents participate in a one-time event to learn a specific skill.

Sample Outcomes:

  • 80% of LHN leaders report building trust with neighbors
  • 75% of families participated in all gatherings this year
  • 80% of community council members will offer feedback to Banyan staff on community strengths and needs
  • 65% of CLEC attendees are developing trust based relationships with each other

“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.”

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