levels the academic achievement playing field.

The epidemic of low academic achievement of African American students across the country in general and Minnesota in particular is well documented. 



The North Star Network is a project of the YMCA.

The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.

– Peter Drucker

Minnesota is experiencing an epidemic of low academic achievement in African American students


of Black Students are Math Proficient

when compared to 63% of white students that were proficient in math in the 2019 state-wide test.


of Black Students are Reading Proficient

when compared to 66.6% of white students that were proficient in Reading in the 2019 state-wide test.


of Black Students are Science Proficient

when compared to 60% of white students that were proficient in science in the 2019 state-wide test.

“Students in Minnesota could lose
18 months of learning..

impacting earnings potential for a lifetime.”

In a June 2020 McKinsey report it predicted the following academic impact of closing schools for a prolonged period of time.

Learning loss will probably be greatest among low-income, black, and Hispanic students. Lower-income students are less likely to have access to high-quality remote learning or to a conducive learning environment:

  • such as a quiet space with minimal distractions,
  • devices they do not need to share,
  • high-speed internet,
  • and parental academic supervision.


In March, when schools initially closed members of the Northstar Network began to think about how to solve the inevitable problems that would arise out of shutting schools down for an extended period of time. The major issue that families and scholars would face would be finding or creating an environment that would be conducive to learning for their students as they are receiving distant learning from their teachers. The solution thatmembers of the Northstar Network came up with was, if you can’t bring the students to the classroom, let’s bring the classroom to the students. Members of the Northstar Network leased luxury charter buses and converted them into mobile learning labs. This summer the the members experimented with an approach utilizing a Get on the Bus campaign providing Mobile Learning Labs for youth.

Mobile Learning Lab

Mobile Learning Labs are buses outfitted with AC, Wi-Fi access, and staff support. Youth participate in two-hour socially
distanced sessions per day onboard the Learning Labs.

Each bus can served 10 youth per session. AACRT has mobilized 10 buses, which ran 3 shifts per day, serving 300 youth daily

Chromebooks for Students

Chromebooks are in the Labs for synchronous & asynchronous lessons.

Tutors on Hand

Tutors are on hand to assist with study. Leveled libraries for silent, sustained reading are also available. Lessons in reading and math and outdoor activities supplement study time.


The New York Times column offers an evolution of this successful approach:

“There is a better way: Allow schools to offer only virtual classes this fall, and convert schools and other large unused spaces into Safe Centers for Online Learning. We could call them not schools, but ‘SCOLs’[ …] students who can keep learning at home should do so. As a result, the centers would not be crowded, and it would be possible to maintain social distancing.”


The buses adhere to safety and sanitation protocols to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Our summer Get on the Bus campaign had no COVID-related incidents due to strict safety protocols. The effort succeeded by providing kids with a quiet and safe space for studying.


This includes a community health worker stationed on the bus, vinyl wipe-off seats, and buses and equipment sanitized between sessions.

Gloves and masks are given to students, hand sanitizer utilized, temperatures taken before getting on the bus, etc.


Learning Pod Location

YMCA Northside
1711 W Broadway Ave N
Minneapolis, MN 55411

Locations Coming Soon!

Family Life Center
Allina Health Center
Friendship Baptist Church
Zion Baptist Church

Learning Pod Location

YMCA Southside
3335 Blaisdell Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408


Phone: 612-389-1555