S.U.N. Academy opens for first school day through partnership with local YMCA August 1, 2016

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.