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 post-secondary education 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 25+ 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.


Banyan is pleased to provide programming in partnership with Minneapolis Public School’s Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE). Play and Learn Drop In classes are offered weekly for youth (less than 5 years old) and their caregivers. Banyan also offers twice a week Seedlings evening programing for children and caregivers.


Thrive is our after school program for grades K-5. Programming occurs every weekday and during school 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
  • 98% of youth say they have support from adults other than their parents
  • 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 school 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 is a five-week program for youth in grades K-5 the builds on Banyan’s school-year programs. Few families in the Phillips neighborhood have the income to provide their children with summer enrichment programming. 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 a new experience
  • 80% will take positive risks

Grades 6-8

Cool Off Days is a 5-week program for youth in grades 6-8 the builds on Banyan’s school-year programs. Few families in the Phillips neighborhood have the income to provide their children with summer enrichment programming. Youth attend field trips and participate in service projects, career exploration, workplace visits, and science projects. Activities focus on building social and intellectual skills.

Summer Academy specifically supports 8th graders transitioning to the ASPIRE program. Weekly classes 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 Banyan Community’s oldest program and one in which youth can put values of inclusion, connection, and cultural awareness into practice. Youth participate in community outreach projects that serve and support their neighborhood, such as making blankets for people experiencing homelessness or creating cards for a senior living center.

Kids Club has evolved from an originally Christian-based program to one that invites and welcomes all youth from any spiritual or faith tradition to join in serving-learning and civic-engagement. Participation in Kids Club is optional, and each session includes an outreach project, gym time, and a snack. All Banyan youth in Kindergarten through 8th grade are invited to join!


ASPIRE is our intensive high school academic support program that engages youth through the critical high school years at DeLaSalle. 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 100 percent high school graduation rate for more than 15 years.

Higher Ground Scholarship

The Higher Ground Scholarship Program funds tuition for Banyan ASPIRE youth to attend DeLaSalle High School. Attending a high performing school prepares our high school youth for post-secondary education 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


ELEVATE is our high school community program youth not enrolled in the ASPIRE program. Three afternoons a week, Banyan provides an onsite study space where staff offer support via homework help, career exploration opportunities, and post-secondary planning help. There is also an opportunity to join the Banyan Scholars program after high school graduation.

Banyan Scholars

ASPIRE and ELEVATE graduates receive support with post-secondary pursuits 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
  • 83% of seniors have built a professional networked team they can access for references
  • 75% are actively involved in serving their community (school, home, church, Banyan)

Family Strengthening Programs

Our families have close bonds that enable us to work together toward a bright 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 empowered to be future oriented seeing their future as bright and full of promise.

Family Support

Building relationships and connecting community are the focus of our family support, and what makes Banyan unique. Through annual check-ins, 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

Sowing the Future

Sowing the Future (Sembrando Futuro) is our Banyan parent advisory group. Banyan parents believe that by investing now in themselves, their children, and the community, they will grow a bright future. These parents 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. Participating in collaborative discussions and actively engaging with Banyan helps build confidence in our adults, strengthens their leadership skills, and provides space for them to exercise their own voice while shaping future Banyan programs.


We connect to families directly through asset based visits. Every Banyan family has at a minimum one visit per year, whether there is a crisis going on or not. This visit can be completed at the family home or at Banyan. During the visit we seek to find the strengths that exist and 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
  • 97% of families are able to identify their strengths/assets
  • 80% of families socially engage at Banyan events
  • 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. Banyan connects members of the neighborhood with each other to build trust, creating bonds that encourage communication and belonging. Banyan acts as a resource hub, connecting residents with supportive systems and equipping them as leading community members.

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 35 blocks reaching out to 3,100 residents. The program engages residents to advocate, organize, and understand how systems work, and creates opportunities for learning and space for engagement.

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.

Gathering Events

Banyan 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:

  • family celebration in the spring
  • summer outing with a day at the lake/barbecue
  • roller-skating party to escape winter
  • fall apple orchard outing

Sample Outcomes:

  • 80% of LHN leaders report building trust with neighbors
  • 75% of families participated in all four gatherings this year
  • 65% of CLEC attendees are developing trust-based relationships with each other
  • 83% of new after school families attended the winter gathering

“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