Collaboration with YMCA wins $2.6 Million Grant to Bring Beacons Network to Richfield

Richfield, Minnesota August 23, 2019)—The YMCA of the North, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, and Richfield Public Schools recently received a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant from the Minnesota Department of Education to expand afterschool and summer learning opportunities for Richfield students in grades K-12. The $2.6 million grant will launch a new Beacons Network in Richfield this fall.

The Beacons Network is an established and proven collaboration that brings together the nation’s largest youth development organizations: the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs and a local community and school district. In Minnesota, the Beacons Network has a 20-year history, serving more than 4,000 youth and 2,000 families in Minneapolis. Measurable results of the program demonstrate improved academic performance, better school attendance, and increased sense of belonging and connection to the community for Beacons students.

“The Beacons Network transforms schools into active youth and community centers,” Superintendent Steven Unowsky said. “I want to thank Dr. Leadriane Roby for bringing this opportunity to Richfield. I believe her proven experience with the program and the respect she has earned from collaborative partners and state education leaders strengthened our grant application. Richfield is fortunate to have her working tirelessly on behalf of our children and our community.”

The Beacons Network brings together collaborative partners focused on a collective vision of strengthening youth development. For the school’s contribution, Richfield Public Schools will provide strong principal leadership, instructional expertise, and dedicated space for after school and summer learning. Community partners will bring a high-quality team of diverse staff and Beacons alumni and a strengths-based youth development approach.

"Together with the YMCA, longtime Beacons Network partner the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities will collaborate with Richfield public schools to create opportunities for K-12 youth and close gaps in access to quality programming,” said Jennifer Wright Collins, executive director of the University YMCA and Beacons Network. “The Y is thrilled to build upon two decades of proven success with the Minneapolis Beacons Network as we now create an expanded vision for Beacons in the Twin Cities.”

The Beacons Network has four key components: ladders of leadership for youth, partnership with families and the community, “The Beacons Way” credo, and engaged learning. “It’s about developing the whole person: academic enrichment, career-college readiness, health, wellness, arts, cultural enrichment, family involvement, youth leadership and service. Our students will come to learn that our community needs them to bring their best selves forward everyday and learn to lead,” shared Dr. Leadriane Roby, assistant superintendent in Richfield Public Schools. “When students have a strong education and sense of purpose, they will rise to what is expected by the adults in their lives.”

“We are incredibly appreciative of this award and partnership with the Y, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities, and MDE,” Unowsky stated. “The rich opportunities and real relationships the Beacons Centers provide will positively impact on our students and our community.”

Beacons Centers will open this fall at Centennial Elementary School, Richfield Middle School and Richfield High School. During year one of the three-year grant, the Beacons team will launch a network of partners and engage youth in program participation.

About the YMCA of the North: The YMCA of the North is a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Established 163 years ago, the Ys provide life-strengthening services across 12 counties of the greater Twin Cities metro region, southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin communities. The 28 Y locations and program sites, eight overnight camps, 10 day camps, and more than 90 child care sites engage more than 370,000 men, women and children of all ages, incomes and backgrounds. To learn more about the Y’s mission and work, visit

Richfield Public Schools #280 inspires and empowers each individual to learn, grow and excel. Located in the heart of the Twin Cities, the city is an urban hometown. The district serves 4,200 students (K-12) in four elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. Schools provide small, personalized, nurturing and stimulating learning environments with teachers who build strong relationships with families. In Richfield Schools, families find real community, rich in diversity and relationships; personalized learning that is rigorous, relevant and engaging for students; rich opportunities through academics, arts, music, athletics and activates; and innovation in action, redefining the school experience for children and teachers.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities: With service dating back to 1926, The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities (BGCTC) provides out-of-school time academic and life skills support through age-specific youth development programs and activities to ensure children and teens in underserved Twin Cities communities are prepared for successful futures. Our continuum includes literacy interventions, STEM innovation, workforce development, and healthy lifestyles programming to ensure each young person we serve is on track to achieve a healthy, self-sufficient adulthood. BGCTC operates Clubs at 10 metro-area locations as well as an environmental learning center, Voyageur Environmental Center (Voyageur), located in Mound, Minnesota. Serving more than 9,000 young people annually, the Boys & Clubs provide safe, fun, and nurturing environments where great futures are started each and every day. For more information, visit

About the funding: This program is funded with a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) using federal funding, CFDA 84.287, 21st Century Community Learning Centers. This program does not necessarily represent the policy of the federal Department of Education or MDE and you should not assume endorsement by the federal or state government.