New KABOOM! Playground Expands Access to Early Childhood Recreation in Northfield
Young kids visiting the new Northfield Community Education Center are celebrating today because they have a great new place to play. For months, representatives from Northfield Public Schools, Northfield Promise, StriveTogether, and KABOOM! (the nonprofit organization focused on ending playspace inequity) have worked together to increase access to playspaces for local kids with the creation of a new, kid-designed playground that was installed in September.

Northfield was one of only three cities in the country selected for this playground grant. The early childhood playground gives young kids an incredible place to play close to where they live and learn, an opportunity that is often hard to achieve.

The new Northfield playground is located at the Northfield Community Education Center, which opened this fall on the city’s north side. Converted from the old Greenvale Park Elementary School, the Center is home to the Northfield Public Schools’ early childhood programs, preschool, and early childhood childcare, as well as Adult Basic Education and English as a Second Language programs.
Located near many of Northfield’s low-income housing areas, the playground is designed for children ages 0-5 and is open to the public.

Read more about the playground here.
By the Numbers: Northfield Kindergarten Readiness Rates Increase
  • Northfield kindergartners scoring at or above the 50th percentile on the national Measures of Academic Progress
  • FRP = Students receiving free/reduced-price school lunches; NFRP = Students not receiving free/reduced-price school lunches

This fall's kindergarten entry data shows continued improvement in kindergarten readiness. Key contributors to improved local readiness include: the tireless work of parents and caregivers of young children, as well as local childcare providers; the collaborative efforts between Northfield-area preschools and the Northfield Public Schools; the commitment of the local medical community to early and collaborative outreach strategies; the expansion of evidence-based home visiting programs; and the community-wide focus on early literacy.

This progress is exciting, and while we celebrate our collective successes, we remain diligent in this work to close early childhood opportunity gaps and ensure that every child in Northfield is ready for K.
Class of 2020 Outreach Extends Student-Staff Connections
Members of the Northfield High School Class of 2020 missed out on many traditional rites of passage last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But thanks to a unique outreach program, they received something previous classes haven’t had: an extra boost of support after graduation.

Through a partnership of Northfield Promise, the Northfield Public Schools, and national partner StriveTogether, 278 graduating seniors were matched with a high school staff member to ensure that the graduates felt supported throughout the transition from graduation to the next phase of their lives—whether they decided to join the workforce, enlist in the military, take a gap year, or continue their education.

Northfield Promise Alumni Coordinator Candace Godfrey said students in the graduating class were asked to list up to two staff members who had influenced them during high school, and then the students were matched with 65 staff members willing to participate in the five-month program.

“With COVID affecting everything, we wanted to make sure graduates had someone to bounce things off of,” Godfrey said. “Sometimes it’s just nice knowing someone’s thinking about you.”

For more about this unique program, click here.
BRIGHT SPOT
Shining the light on great work underway around the Northfield Promise benchmarks!
Little Free Libraries Expand Book Access
Members of Northfield’s Rotary Club planned to spend time over the summer coordinating outdoor Library Book Bike activities throughout Northfield. When COVID-19 shut down those plans, Rotarians directed their efforts toward another literacy-related activity: building and stocking Little Free Libraries.

They built and installed eight new little libraries in low-income neighborhoods throughout Northfield.

“We are targeting those areas because of the gap in reading scores between higher-income students and lower-income students. We know access to books is a major piece of literacy skill development. Literacy-rich environments build strong readers,” said Healthy Community Initiative (HCI) Coordinator Laura Turek.

The Rotarians also took inventory of all 47 Little Free Libraries throughout town and are restocking them monthly to ensure that they include books for children and youth.
“We felt it was important to provide children’s reading material while the schools and library were closed,” said Laurie Williams, a Rotarian who also serves on the Northfield Promise Reading Team. “We want to make sure all children have access to quality, appropriate books.”

Read more about the Little Free Libraries project here.
Be on the lookout for the 2020 Northfield Promise Annual Report – it will arrive in mailboxes soon!
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Northfield Promise exists to ensure all children in Northfield reach their full potential.
Northfield Promise has been recognized as a Proof Point community by the national StriveTogether network. StriveTogether is a national movement with a clear purpose: helping every child succeed in school and in life from cradle to career, regardless of race, zip code or circumstance. In partnership with nearly 70 communities across the country, StriveTogether provides resources, best practices and processes to give every child every chance for success. The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network reaches 13.7 million students, involves 10,800 organizations and has partners in 29 states and Washington, D.C.
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