1990 – Concerned citizens, civic leaders, faith partners, educators and law enforcement personnel met to network and share ideas related to supporting parents and establishing a framework to ensure that youth in Anoka would become successful adults.
1995 – A Joint Powers Agreement was signed between Anoka-Hennepin ISD11, Anoka County, and the cities of Andover, Anoka and Ramsey (designated as “Partners”) to be governed by the newly established NWACCC.
1997 – Neighbors Helping Neighbors was born! We opened a neighborhood center in the Highland Park area (Anoka), strategically placed in an area that housed low-income and at-risk families. The center provided a safe place with caring adults who provided free after school homework help, summer enrichment programs and activities for kids who were left on their own, and the center provided a way for positive relationships to grow with law enforcement. Additionally, a family club was created to support the family structure and provide healthy activities and access to needed resources and services.
2000 – Recipient of funding from the McKnight Foundation for our work with community crime prevention at the Anoka neighborhood center.
2001 – Neighbors Helping Neighbors recognized by the National Association of Counties with the Building Healthy Communities Award.
2003 – Increased staff by adding a part-time Site Coordinator.
2008 – Increased staff to accommodate a new neighborhood center in the city of Ramsey, strategically located in a neighborhood with high levels of poverty and at-risk youth.
2008 – Awarded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to renovate a home in the Highland neighborhood (Anoka) to serve as a permanent center for the program.
2009 – Adopted the framework of America’s Promise Alliance established by Retired General Colin Powell and Mrs. Powell. This framework established the importance of the five promises for all youth, of which our program is based upon. It was at this time that we formally transitioned to Youth First Community of Promise.
2010 – Added support to ESL classrooms at Anoka High School. Having Youth First staff in the ESL classrooms opened up access to a larger group of students who needed additional support. Youth First is now able to advocate on their behalf as well as work with their families to become more involved in school. This move has helped us bring our services to where the kids are and broaden our reach in the community.
2011 – Growth of our programming in Andover. Our staff made great relationships with kids and cultivated a group of kids that felt safe, supported and, as a result, made real progress both academically and socially.
2012 – Graduated the largest number of kids who had been Youth First participants for years. Many of them have gone on to pursue post-secondary education and are making significant positive changes in their lives.
2013 – Added additional after school programming at Anoka High School two days a week. Based on very high numbers of students who needed assistance with after-school homework and other support services, staff responded to the principal of Anoka High School by offering this programming on-site. The program has continued to grow and address the needs identified at Anoka High School.
2014 – Restructure completed. Executive Director hired.
2016 – Added programming at Andover High School. This includes after school programming and in-classroom support.
2017 – Programming begins in the City of Coon Rapids. Increased staff by adding a second full-time Youth Program Coordinator.