MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The Northside Achievement Zone held a Path to College walk, celebrating a bright future ahead for thousands of students.
So far, 2300 northside students are a part of the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), which aims to change expectations and make college a top priority for families.
“College not jail, we won't fail!" was the cry from people in the march.
Mario Ramos Jr. may only be nine years old, but he's the NAZ’s biggest cheerleader.
When asked why he was so excited, he couldn’t contain himself.
“Because I'm going to college!” he said.
Mario was out front as he joined other scholars, parents and community partners in the Path to College walk down West Broadway. Many held signs of universities near and far.
His father, Mario Ramos Sr., was there too, a bit amazed at the support from the community.
"I just explained to him that the community is supporting him,” said Ramos Sr. “Those honks that he hears are support. Everybody wants you to succeed, including me.”
It's the community support that distinguishes NAZ from other groups. Not only is education a focus, but partner organizations also assist with health care and housing for families in need.
Taejon Ward joined NAZ as a parent and now works for the group.
"This program is helping to see that even in darkness, there is light,” said Ward. “There are people still fighting for them, who are willing to go to the front line for them, willing to walk through fire them."
It's something little Mario has noticed.
“We talk about our goals and how we're going to achieve them,” he said.
College for Mario is still years away with many potential obstacles ahead, but his father believes NAZ gives his son a fighting chance.
“I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow,” said Ramos. “But I do know that this organization is connecting the community in ways that hasn't happened before.”