Sankofa Underground North Academy will open this month with an estimated 100 students in kindergarten and first grade, thanks to a partnership with the Greater Twin Cities YMCA.
For two years, the new public charter elementary school — dedicated to eradicating disparities for students of color in North Minneapolis — will be housed at the Harold Mezile North Community YMCA Youth and Teen Enrichment Center, a high-need area for quality schools according to IFF research.
IFF’s real estate services team played an instrumental role in securing space at the center, a recently renovated property with classrooms, a gym, and a swimming pool. The center — the only youth-focused Y in the country — sits empty each school day until 2:30 pm.
S.U.N. Academy will operate an earlier-than-typical school day. S.U.N. and the Y will invite students to stay in the building for after-school or evening activities where they can enjoy arts, sports, and other programs.
The center’s staff love the idea of sharing space with a charter school that seeks to serve the same African-American children from North Minneapolis. The two organizations will share a family-style meal program based on nutritious and culturally appropriate foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The plan to rent space at the Y facility easily won approval from S.U.N. staff, board members, and the parent engagement committee. Now, S.U.N. has a home until it needs more space, and the rental income the Y gets from the lease will go toward enhancing its youth programs.