Thursday, January 21, 2010

Northside Achievement Zone

Did you know that in 1973 there were 300,000 Americans in prison, while today there are 3.4 million? That is just one of many startling statistics Geoffrey Canada shared to a packed house at the Basilica of St. Mary on January 15th. He noted that it costs on average $37-40,000 a year to lock someone up in prison. And then when they come out after 10 years they often haven't gained one thing in order to successfully contribute to society. Yet, if we spend $18,000 on education people are screaming. This doesn't seem to make economic sense does it?

Mr. Canada is founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, which is serving as a model for the Northside Achievement Zone. Kinship of Greater Minneapolis has joined with Bolder Options and Big Brothers/Sisters of the Twin Cities to bring mentors for kids to a high need area of North Minneapolis. Kinship is also working to find mentors for children of prisoners, who without intervention are seven times more likely than their peers to enter the correctional system. Currently we have about 50 kids on our waiting list who have a parent in prison and who would love to have a Kinship friend.

We simply can't afford to the current cradle to prison pipeline that exits. You can learn more about this national crisis from a report provided by the Children's Defense Fund. Thanks to all who are helping to break this tragic cycle of incarceration.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

President Obama proclaims January as National Mentoring Month

Recognizing the value of mentoring, President Obama has proclaimed January as national mentoring month. His proclamation is available at the National Mentoring Center's website. President Obama notes "Mentors are building a brighter future for our Nation by helping our children grow into productive, engaged, and responsible adults."

Kinship is working with numerous churches, media outlets and others to get the word out about the value of mentoring and the opportunity to befriend one of the 150 kids currently awaiting Kinship friends.

Interested in helping promote this recruitment effort? Please contact Kinship's Director of Recruitment and Communications, Nancy Torrison,

Monday, January 4, 2010

The danger of a single story

Chimamanda Adichie, a story teller and author from Nigeria, provides a insightful presentation on the danger of having a single impression/story of people of other nations, economic conditions and cultures. This 19 minute video is available for viewing on the internet from

Ms. Adichie gives us a great reminder of the value of understanding others and avoiding the simplicity of stereotypes. Her story reminds us to reconsider our assumptions of those whom we may pity.

One of the valuable benefits of Kinship is the understanding that comes from meeting and getting to know people of different cultures, ages, and locations. I've often heard from mentors, parents and children on how blessed they have been as a result of getting to know their friends in Kinship and their stories. Isn't it great when through getting to know others our perceptions can change from "those poor children" to "our wonderful, capable children"?

In this New Year let's all work to listen more closely to the stories of others.