Neighborhood House 2017 annual report

Dear Friends,

2017 marked Neighborhood House’s 120th year of helping Saint Paul families overcome challenges, identify their strengths, and connect to our community. Of the more than 14,000 individuals we served last year, each required a unique approach in order to support them on their journey toward safe, stable, rewarding lives. Our efforts not only create brighter futures on behalf of those we serve, but also a more vibrant and robust community for all.

Thanks to the generous support of donors and volunteers, as well as the collaborative efforts of our staff and participants, 2017 was another year of significant impact and growth. Your continued commitment to the families who rely on Neighborhood House for help when they need it is truly the glue that keeps it all together. Our gift to you is the stories in this report; we hope they will touch your heart and demonstrate the profound impact you make by generously supporting Neighborhood House’s work.

We are proud of our 2017 accomplishments, and hope you will be as well:

• Our Parent and Early Childhood Education program is building a strong future for our youngest participants with 90% of our preschoolers scoring at the age-appropriate levels for social, emotional, language and physical development, preparing them to enter kindergarten.

• Nearly 1,000,000 pounds of food was given through our two Food Markets and Fresh Produce Distributions. Through a new partnership with Metropolitan State University, we were able to expand to year-round increasing access to nutritious food for Saint Paul families

• More than 1,000 families received help in our Family Centers. Partnering with our staff, families in crisis received the resources they needed to stabilize and start to rebuild.

• 255 youth and adults in our College Access program received scholarship application assistance to achieve their academic goals.

• With the expansion of college and career-readiness programming in the West 7th Corridor, nearly 900 students participated in our Adult Education program; 343 adults completed courses that prepared them for the workplace, and 242 students increased their digital literacy skills and improved their employment options.

Neighborhood House has been investing in people for over 121 years. We know it works – the return on our investment is strong. It builds strong families, successful businesses and vibrant communities. As we look to the future, our goal is to deepen our impact by working with multiple members of a family, across programs and over time – because that’s how people transform their lives. We are shifting our systems so that all of our programs intentionally work together to improve outcomes for our families.

As the Neighborhood House President and 2017 Chair of the Board of Directors, we can’t thank you enough for investing in our families as they work to gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence to thrive. With your support and trust in our work, we can continue to help families build on their strengths, empower them to contribute those strengths to our communities, and create a bright future for all.

Rihana’s first experience with Neighborhood House was in the classroom learning English. But, it became much more for her than just learning the language, it was a place that became more like home.

Adult Education

With a culturally-appropriate and learner-centered approach, our program teaches adult learners and their families the literacy and the life skills they need to enter the workforce or to continue on to higher education. The Adult Education program focuses on helping students find long-term stable employment, housing, education, and healthcare—all significant steps on the path toward independence, stability and a bright future for their families.

Highlights from 2017:

With generous grants from the St. Paul and Mardag Foundations, the English and GED classes expanded and are held at the Rockwood Place Apartments. The students, who are primarily seniors, live in the building and hail from places like Russia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In a partnership with Minnesota Computers for Schools, we began offering entry-level IT classes where students work toward earning nationally-recognized certifications. Adult Education students often enroll into the IT classes, empowering them receive education in more than one area.

College Access

The College Access program at Neighborhood House works with individuals interested in pursuing Post-Secondary Educations. Staff Meet with participants, listen to their story and their plans, then support them on their journey with one-on-one coaching, outreach events, college tours, and financial education. Many participants become the first in their families to attend college.

By developing awareness, planning and goal setting, taking action steps, providing a support system, and offering encouragement, College Access has created positive community impact so participants may secure living wage jobs, identify pathways to career advancement, and manage personal finances to support their lifestyles and build wealth.

Highlights from 2017:

Last September, State Representative Ilhan Omar came to speak at the Dream Big event. With her unique story of immigration and assimilation, she inspired participants to consider their possibilities and dreams.

Every quarter, youth participants spend an evening with a variety of professionals, called “Pizza with Professionals.” During these events, youth network with professionals from different industries to talk about career goals and different paths they can take in their future. The adult version of this event, called Career Conversations, happens three times a year. Adult Education students with intermediate and advanced English and those in the GED-college readiness connect with professionals to ask questions and receive career advice and direction.

Raised in a household with addiction and trauma, it would seem unlikely that Shatara Carpenter could lead a successful life. And, for a long while, she didn’t.

Family Centers

Our Family Centers serve a high volume of families who are experiencing economic distress, eviction, homelessness, poor mental health, and other serious life issues. Generally, participants tend to be women of color living below the federal poverty line, between the ages of 23 and 54. Each Family Center location is a one-stop-shop for services and referrals, where participants and staff work together to identify needs, discuss potential solutions, and create a plan for the future.

Highlights from 2017:

In 2017, the Basic Needs team established “Crisis Days” two mornings per week. Participants are able to walk in to the Wellstone Center or one of our East Side locations to receive crisis assistance for issues such as rental payments, damage deposits and overdue utility bills. Following the participants' crisis interviews, staff come together to work on specific solutions and referrals for the families.

Refugee Resettlement

The Refugee Resettlement Program provides information to refugees so they can learn how to navigate our complex city and gain social connections with each other and weave their traditions into the fabric of our community. The Karen Support Group monthly meetings provide speakers from law enforcement, immigration, Department of Natural Resources, Saint Paul Public Schools, and Ramsey County to help families learn about all that is available to residents.

Highlights from 2017

The Refugee Resettlement Program achieved 380 outcomes as required by the State of Minnesota.

Youth Programming

Using trauma-informed, asset-based approaches, staff help youth explore and define their identity, build upon personal strengths and interests, develop and maintain healthy relationships, use their voice to influence systems change, make positive contributions to the community, and increase community support systems in their lives.

Highlights from 2017:

Funded by a grant for first time campers from the Pohlad Foundation, ten youth, ages 12 to 16, attended Camp St Croix for a week, and five young women, ages 14-18, spent a week navigating the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. At the beginning, youth were nervous to leave behind friends and familiar places. By the last day of camp, youth declared it had been the greatest week ever!

Five high school students spent a week touring eight historically black colleges and universities. On this weeklong trip of empowerment, discovery, and solidarity, Neighborhood House youth spoke with black college students and faculty about education, dream careers, the history of black academia and its impact in America.

Kids Imagine

This unique program incorporates mindfulness, homework and literacy skills, physical activity, and STEAM activities to enhance learning for youth in grades K-5.


TOP (Teen Outreach Program), for youth ages 12-15, combines weekly peer group meetings, positive adult relationships, new experiences, and community service learning to increase healthy behaviors. Youth will explore volunteering projects, leadership opportunities, and new places on field trips, all in a fun and interactive group environment. TOP Clubs are run at multiple locations.

3D Core IT Program

Through a unique partnership with Minnesota Computers for Schools (MNCFS) students, ages 14-18, become proficient in basic computer skills, applications, and use of the Internet. Staff work to engage youth in leadership development, digital education, life skills management and community service.

Celita Center

The Celita Center is where youth, ages 12-18, develop positive relationships with adults, find homework help, a positive social network, and support for whatever is happening in their lives.


GRIP helps youth define their identity, make positive contributions to the community, build upon personal strengths/interests, and increase community support systems in their lives. We serve youth ages 11-24. These youth are either currently involved in the juvenile justice system or at risk of becoming involved.

Community Health

It’s That Easy

It’s That Easy program trains parent educators on how to engage families in sensitive conversations about sexual health and relationships. The Neighborhood House program met its goal of reaching over 1,000 parents who reside in Ramsey County and parents reported that they felt more confident in their ability to engage in conversations with their child and youth after having conversations with the Parent Educators.

HIV Testing, Education and Outreach program:

The Neighborhood House HIV education program had great success reaching high-risk communities by conducting in-home visits and more outreach events with Latino and Hmong communities. The program met the outcome goal of conducting 200 HIV tests.

East Side Health and Wellness Collaborative:

Neighborhood House is a member of the East Side Health and Wellness Collaborative, a group of 20 organizations convened by Fairview (formerly HealthEast) to address the social determinants of health on the East Side. East Side Mental Health and Stress Resiliency Partnership is one of two initiatives of the collaborative. The group successfully implemented two community dialogue events to gather perspectives about mental health, cultural identity, and resiliency. Learnings from these events will guide the work of the Collaborative in order to provide culturally competent mental health service, help reduce social isolation, and strengthen communities. The group also successfully imbedded cultural responsiveness within Mental Health First Aid trainings and provided training to East Side community members and social service providers.

Each Friday for the last ten years, clients from Kaposia have volunteered at the Wellstone Center Food Market.


At Neighborhood House, volunteers are essential to achieving our mission. Volunteers bring enthusiasm, expertise, and share diverse perspectives that foster a community of mutual enrichment. This past year alone, volunteers provided invaluable service by helping us to feed hungry families, educate new immigrants and refugees, create safe spaces for youth, and move families from survive to thrive!

Food Support

Neighborhood House has offered Food Support as one of its core services for 120 years. By distributing nearly 1 million pounds of nutritious, fresh, culturally-focused foods annually, we help assure struggling families are healthy and well-fed so they may succeed in work, school, and life. Food Support activities are ongoing and year-round.

With the increasingly high numbers of families in St. Paul with food insecurity, our Food Support program is needed now more than ever. We operate two Food Markets; one at the Wellstone Center on Saint Paul’s west side, and the other at Francis Basket, located in the Highland neighborhood of Saint Paul. Our Fresh Produce Distributions, which provide free fresh produce in four St. Paul neighborhoods, also fill the gap for low-income families who lack access to fresh, nutritious food.

Highlights from 2017:

The Wellstone Center Food Market began “Bonus Thursdays” in March providing an additional shopping opportunity to receive fresh food for our participants.

Neighborhood House is a member of the East Side Health and Wellness Collaborative, a group of 20 organizations convened by Fairview (formerly HealthEast) to address the social determinates of health on the East Side. East Side Table is one of two initiatives that is a collaboratively designed and implemented program focused on improving health and well-being through food access in communities on the East Side of Saint Paul. In the fall of 2017, East Side Table piloted its 10-week make-at-home meal kit program to over 100 families including Neighborhood House Family Center participants. Each week families received a kit with a cultural recipe along with the ingredients to improve food skills.

Just one week after they arrived, Blessing gave birth to their son Daniel three months earlier than his due date.

Parent and Early Childhood Education

Research has shown that much of what you need to succeed in life is established before you enter kindergarten. Neighborhood House’s Parent and Early Childhood Education program is designed to address the unique challenges immigrant families face in preparing their children for school. Our culturally-specific early childhood interventions help close the gap in school-preparedness while increasing lifelong learning and career opportunities for these children and their families.

Highlights from 2017:

The home visiting program has proven to be tremendously beneficial for our families, and has become an integral part of our programming. It offers parents a private outlet to ask questions, problem-solve parenting challenges, bridge the gap between home and school, and celebrate parenting successes.

During the 2016-2017 school year, the program saw a growth of seven more families and 65 additional home visits than the previous year. This year, the visits were tailored to better meet the family’s needs, and they responded by engaging in them more frequently. Topics frequently discussed during home visits this year were child development, language development, literacy, personality and temperament, learning through play and school readiness.

Wellstone Center

The Paul & Sheila Wellstone Center for Community Building is more than a building. Within its walls, participants find help and hope; youth find connections to each other and the community; and businesses find ways to give back. Along with Neighborhood House programming, the Wellstone Center is a Social Enterprise. It is an event center hosting a range of activities- theater performances, training classes, meetings, birthday parties, basketball tournaments, choir rehearsals and more. Revenue generated by the Wellstone Center provides support for mission programming. Neighborhood House, along Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Praxis International, Avivo (formerly Resource, Inc.), American Veteran’s Post 5, the West Side Boosters and our other partners have made the Wellstone Center a go-to site for not only the neighborhood, but the city and state.

Highlights from 2017:

The Wellstone Center launched an ongoing series of community engagement conversations and events. Our first event, “Creating Social Change Through Community Engagement,” featured Metric Giles, the executive director of the Community Stabilization Project. Conversation centered around ways to engage in civic action, community gardens and solving local transportation challenges.


Due to Neighborhood House changing its fiscal year from the calendar year to July 1-June 30, audited financials will not be available until November. The numbers provided here have been reviewed by the Finance Committee of the Board of Directors and approved by the Board of Directors. Financials will be updated once the audit is complete and approved by the Board of Directors.

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