What an inspiring meeting we had this week. We heard from Scott Hazelrigg, the President of NorthStar Foundation. I was anxious to hear about NorthStar because I pass the building often from my north Omaha neighborhood and have wanted to learn more about their programs. 
In November 2009 the NorthStar Foundation secured a partnership with the nation’s leading provider of learning expeditions in nature, Outward Bound USA.  Together NorthStar and Outward Bound worked to establish the Omaha Outward Bound School and have worked with over 13,000 students since 2010.  In May 2014 North Star opened their campus at 49th & Ames Avenue after a successful 14 million dollar capital campaign.  Code: Make a difference.  Originally it served 5th through 8th grade boys but now NorthStar now provides afterschool and summer programming to 3rd through 12th grade boys and has just seen it’s first graduating class this past spring.  Construction is now underway to more than double the size of its existing 33,000 square foot facility to 70,000.
Scott came to visit our Rotary club in 1978 with his father to “build his capacity to understand the world, navigate it and build his social capital.”  He went on to say that these are the resources the young men he works with lack due to no fault of their own.  They may lack educational resources, finances or structure at home but this in no way diminishes their incredible potential.  NorthStar works to tap and build that capacity and give them avenues to becoming leaders in our community.  One statistic he related was if a child is on grade level in math, reading and writing in 9th grade there is a better than 80% chance they will graduate on time from high school.  This was their original benchmark until the youth came in themselves to demand the opportunity to stay with NorthStar.  The realization was that the need was to teach the youth how to “break up” with NorthStar and become independent and move on to become productive community leaders.  NorthStar needed to help them own their own futures and level the playing field for them to compete with children born into those “good” resources provided at birth.  He gave some great examples of the progress of a few students and it was inspiring.  There are volunteer opportunities at NorthStar and my hope is that some of us will take advantage of that and help to make a difference.