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Community Spotlight: Northfield

By: Jordan Taylor and Rachel Woldum, AmeriCorps Promise Fellows,  Northfield

The community of Northfield features PRIMEtime, a collaborative program that provides after school programming to local youth.  The PRIMEtime collaborative has been highly successful in creating academic improvement, increased school attendance, and community involvement in youth participants.  With support from the Promise Fellows and through this variety of opportunities for youth, the PRIMEtime collaborative has achieved impressive results.  Last year over 925 different youth took part in PRIMEtime programming, and 95% of frequent participants demonstrated improvement in core academic subjects.  Especially of note, the graduation rate of Latino youth has increased from 36% to 90% in the last six years!  These accomplishments are due largely in part to the partnership between schools and community organizations and local colleges.  Northfield is a great example of how communities can do great things for their youth through collaboration!

Examples of this collaboration are readily found throughout the community.  The Middle School Youth Center, a free, after school drop-in center and another partner of PRIMEtime,  is coordinated by Promise Fellow Clare Dudzinski. Her students receive individual and group tutoring during the school day to promote academic and socio-emotional skill building. At the Middle School Youth Center, academic, recreational, artistic, and cultural enrichment opportunities are provided for youth.   At Northfield High School, Promise Fellow Mundo Garza  maintains academic support programs, both in-school and after-school. He also works closely with the Northfield T.O.R.C.H. (Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes) program, a collaborative that provides low-income, minority, and “first-generation” students with more resources and support for secondary/post-secondary endeavors.  Also offered at the High School is the Student Support Team, which identifies at-risk students and delineates action plans to address various academic and personal issues.

Another example is the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative (HCI), which is a partner with PRIMEtime.  Promise Fellow Jordan Taylor supports the Initiative by working on a variety of youth-focused initiatives around Northfield and larger Rice County, providing support to groups such as the Northfield Mayor’s Youth Council, the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug Use, and many more.  Essentially, Jordan is a strong bridge between youth involvement in and outside of an academic setting.

Northfield also features the Northfield Union of Youth (The Key), a youth-run youth center that focuses on providing youth with free programs, leadership experiences, and volunteer opportunities.  The NUY recently moved into a newer, more spacious building that allows them to serve a larger youth population. The Key is supported by Promise Fellow Rachel Woldum, who has also started serving at the Area Learning Center, an alternative high school, this year.   The ALC supports students by offering one-on-one tutoring and programming for students not attending Northfield High school.

The work of the Promise Fellows represents Northfield’s commitment to a healthy community through collaboration.  For more information on PRIMEtime, visit www.primetimekids.org

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