Closing the Gap

Empowering caregivers and strengthening families through community-based participatory research

February 21, 2022

A child’s first teacher is their caregiver, and equipping caregivers with knowledge and resources can help children thrive both inside and outside of the classroom. A North Minneapolis nonprofit is breaking the mold in how to do that—and with support from a partnership with the College of Education and Human Development, succeeding.

The Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) aims to end multigenerational poverty in North Minneapolis by closing existing gaps in education, housing, employment, and opportunity. In this spotlight, Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, an assistant research professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, and Vince Frazier, NAZ Family Academy Program Manager and facilitator, will share how their collaboration led to a unique set of caregiver engagement classes designed to support, empower, and build skills with families as they navigate school, home, and child-level experiences. Using a community-based participatory research model, NAZ developed courses for its Family Academy that support caregivers in strengthening their families and growing the academic success of their children.  

About the presenters

Assistant Research Professor Alisha Wackerle-Hollman

Alisha Wackerle-Hollman is an assistant research professor in the Department of Educational Psychology. She is passionate about engaging communities to improve child and family outcomes. She is committed to supporting young children on both sides of their academic experience: at home within families and in early childhood classrooms with teachers. Her interests are focused on parenting intervention and engagement and assessment design, data-based decision making, and early childhood multi-tiered systems of support. She has a specific interest in improving parent engagement and child-level outcomes for historically marginalized families through empowerment and evidence-based parenting practices. Her work in this area has grown through her partnership with the Northside Achievement Zone.  

Vince Frazier

Vince Frazier is the Family Academy Program Manager for the Northside Achievement Zone. He partners with families to support them along their journey in becoming powerful leaders for their scholar(s) and within the community. Vince believes in the Power and resiliency of the human spirit to hold on to Hope.  For when hope is quenched within the minds of parents it can have adverse effects on the lives of their scholars.  Vince works in partnership with community members, to restore Hope to parents and those in need – He is his brothers/sisters keeper.

Vince has built meaningful relationships for 20 years within his community.  He has worked in, Workforce development for 10 years where he has experienced immense success in connecting formally incarcerated black men and women back into the workforce, education and training opportunities. Vince is a certified Professional Trainer in the areas of:  Emotional Intelligence, Personal Empowerment, Motivational Interviewing, Group Facilitation and more. He is GCDF certified as well as a GCDFI certified Instructor and Professional Development Coach. Vince attended Florida College in, Tampa FL where he studied Early Childhood education and he plans to continue his education in, Human Development and Family Studies.