SPECIAL INITIATIVES


Occasionally, a need arises at an affordable housing community that is meet by a targeted response through funding opportunities and community partnerships. 

Below is a sampling of our special initiatives.

KaBoom! Playground Build at Polynesian Village
In 2008, Polynesian Village (later renamed Garden View Apartments) was in need of a new play structure for the large number of youth residing at the property.  The current play structure was over 30 years old, missing numerous pieces and posed several health and safety concerns.    This initiative was made possible by a grant from KaBoom! and partnerships with The Home Depot, NFL and the larger community, a 2,500 square foot state-of-the-art playground designed by resident children was constructed in one day.  

Barebones Productions Arts Residency at Garden View Apartments

In 2011, youth at Garden View Apartments participated in a week long arts residency with artists from Barebones Productions.  Youth created large German pole puppets, designed and launched rockets, made stilts and practiced stilt walking.  At the end of the week, youth led a parade throughout the property displaying their giant German Pole Puppets, individual puppets and stilt walking.  These activities exposed youth to a new form of visual and performance arts they wouldn't normally be exposed to.    This initiative was made possible by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.  

Blue Lake Dance Project at Ames Lake Neighborhood
In 2011, youth participating in Ames After Hours were able to participate in a 12-week dance residency with dance professionals from Blue Lake Dance Project.  Youth learned ballet, hip hop and were  introduced to the discipline of dance.  At the end of the residency, youth held a final recital for the community demonstrating their mastery of dance skills.  By bringing the dance residency to the Ames Lake Neighborhood community at no cost to youth, the initiative provided an experience many not have access to otherwise.   This initiative was made possible by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.  

Summer Literacy Program at Ames Lake Neighborhood

In the summer of 2012, Ames Lake Summer Camp provided a summer reading program for K-5th grade youth in an effort to reduce the number of low-income students who experience summer reading loss. Numerous research sources reveal the best predictor of summer reading loss is whether a child reads during the summer.  To combat summer reading loss, the program provided 4 literacy components.  1.  Individual and group reading time; 2. Weekly reading themed activities; 3.  Bookmobile visits, and; participating in the Minnesota Literacy Council's Summer Reads Program.    At the end of the summer, youth logged a total of 20.25 hours of reading and a majority of youth showed improvement in the number of words they could read per minute.    This initiative was made possible thanks to a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and a partnership with the St. Paul Public Library.  

Healthy Community Dinners at Garden View Apartments & University Dale Apartments

From 2014-2016, families and children at Ames Lake Neighborhood, Garden View Apartments, University Dale Apartments and Wilder Square participated in monthly healthy community dinners sponsored by Allina Health's Neighborhood Health Connection Healthy Activity Grant.  Providing inexpensive healthy meals can be a challenge, especially for people who have limited resources.  The Healthy Community Dinners not only provided a platform for residents to try healthy foods and learn valuable nutritional information, but the dinners helped build social connections while combating isolation and depression.    Each dinner consisted of a healthy meal and then a 30-45 minute nutritional education session lead by a facilitator from the University of Minnesota Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program.  Session topics included, but were are not limited to: eating a healthy breakfast, nutritional advertising, healthy snacks, food safety, and fat, sugar and salt.

Sun Focus article on Healthy Community Dinners - November 2014