The Real Minneapolis: Allina Health donates space for youth

There’s a new place for students from Minneapolis to get access to tutoring and technology as they learn away from the classroom.

Ava Young is 12 years old and in the seventh grade.

"You don’t always have to stay at home. This is a place where you can do your work, you don’t always have to be at home doing your work," Young said.

The space she’s referring to may look like an adult office space with cubicle after cubicle. It was, but now youth like Young are taking seat.

"I feel like it’s helpful because there’s more assistance here, there are more helpers here," she said.

Allina Health donated 80 work spaces in its corporate office in south Minneapolis to the nonprofit The Real Minneapolis.

"The real mission of The Real Minneapolis is to shine a bright and radiant light on hope because that’s the Minneapolis that I know," co-founder Valerie Quintana.

Co-founder Mary Claire Francois explained, "We came up with that mission because we wanted to provide people with opportunities and resources that would bring them hope and long lasting hope."

It’s now a safe, quiet space to study and socialize. Quintana and Claire Francois founded the nonprofit after the death of George Floyd.

"We were at the George Floyd memorial site and the message we were hearing from the local families, the parents, was that during the pandemic we’re very much suffering," Quintana said.

The Real Minneapolis offers free tutoring, technology, tools and food for kids and teens who need it. About 20 students are currently signed up but there’s still room. They can take about 50 kids, ages 10 and up.

For 10-year-old fifth-grader Declan Gooley, it’s a new home away from home.

"It’s nice to have a routine. Because I come here in with my bags, I sit down … and then I turn on my computer directly to school," Gooley said.

There’s even two "chill zones" where students can get away from their desk to unplug and just breathe.

"It’s helpful because I have my own space, and there’s not really noise, that much noise," Gooley added.

There’s only the sound of hope.

"The hope is that everyone feels love and that they belong and that we are all equal," Francois said.

Quintana said The Real Minneapolis is looking for corporate donations to continue expanding what they can offer youth across the Twin Cities.