Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton


1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

Phat (slang for "cool," first rate," or "superb") Summer is an award-winning free, city-wide summer evening recreation and education program for youth ages 12-18. Phat Summer opens public facilities including park, school and community buildings later into the evening to provide teens safe, supervised activities. In 1998, 33 sites were open three to five nights per week from 7:00-10:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, from June 22 –August 14. Programs and activities vary from site to site but are offered within six major categories: Life Skills Learning, Sports/Physical, Fine Arts, Career Development, Creative Arts and Service Learning.

Phat Summer is an innovative partnership between the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board, Minneapolis Public Schools' Family and Community Educational Services, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and Minneapolis Office of the Mayor. Phat Summer is designed to use existing public resources and neighborhood-based facilities to fill a need when they otherwise would be un- or under-utilized. Prior to Phat Summer, school buildings, churches and park facilities had either not been open at all during summer evenings, or they had not been open late.

Phat Summer is a universal program; there are no income or other restrictions. Sites are strategically located to provide access to services for youth from all parts of the city.

2. When was the program created and why?

Phat Summer was created in 1994 at the request of Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton to provide teens with a positive alternative to unstructured, unsupervised, and too often, unsafe activities during the long summer evenings. Phat Summer is part of Minneapolis’ comprehensive strategy to keep young people safe and engaged in positive activity.

When young people are engaged in positive youth development activities, they are acquiring assets needed for success in school and life. When young people are participating in safe, supervised programs, they are not in harm’s way, and are not committing crimes. Phat Summer provides youth with opportunities to acquire these key assets: constructive and enjoyable activities with peers, caring relationships with positive adults, and meaningful participation in community life.

3. How do you measure the program’s effectiveness?

This year, 3,513 teens participated in Phat Summer and made 42,852 visits to 33 Phat Summer sites throughout the city, for an average of twelve visits (or nearly weekly during the summer) each. This represents significant growth over 1994 when 1,466 young people visited 18 Phat Summer sites 11,144 times. In 1996, the Phat Summer received a Certificate of Commendation from the Minnesota Governor’s Office for exemplary partnership efforts. Each year, the program has seen an increase in youth served and frequency of visits, a sign of the program’s success.

We also measure the effectiveness of Phat Summer by the number and type of activities at each site; the number of youth by age, gender and participation in each activity; a completed evaluation from stakeholders at each site including: a) youth, b) parents, c) staff, and d) community members; and observation and anecdotal information from program managers, supervisors and youth participants.

4. How is the program financed?

Funding for Phat Summer is secured yearly from several resources including the City, the State Legislature, and various grant-making organizations and institutions. Additionally, program partners provide extensive in-kind contributions including staff time, facilities and equipment. The number of sites offered and the variety of activities provided are determined by the funds raised for the program.

5. How is the community involved in this program?

Phat Summer activities offered vary from site to site. At each site, staff and volunteer youth, parents and community members work together to determine what activities are offered to best reflect the needs of neighborhood young people. Local arts organizations are contracted to provide activities such as video projects, dance and arts and crafts.

Phat Summer participants consistently and enthusiastically report it is an important resource for teens:

"I like to come to volleyball on Tuesday and Thursday nights because it's really fun. I get to practice with my team and it gives me something to do. I love this place!"

Bao Yang, Bethune School.

"The Phat program is really good. It gives kids something to do. You can learn things and have fun at the same time. The caring staff make the park a safe home away from home."

Nakesha Caldwell, North Commons

"Phat Summer is the best thing to happen to us since Valley Fair!"

Quiana Mobley, Longfellow Park

Minneapolis Police Officers and Park Police Officers regularly visit Phat Summer sites to provide safety and participate in activities. They staff the sites both in and out of uniform. They report Phat Summer is a valuable program for young people and helps police officers build positive relationships with youth:

6. What are the major lessons learned from this program?

If you provide activities for young people during the evenings, they will come. Hanging out at malls or on the streets is not necessarily their first choice, however it is often the only choice they have. We’ve also learned that you can bring together the public entities in a community to open their public resources up in evenings for community programming. Turf issues need to be worked out, but it can be done.

7. Contact person:

Ann Freeman

Communications Director

Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board

310 ½ City Hall

Minneapolis, MN 55415

Phone (612) 673-2060


Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton has lead development of a comprehensive approach to school and after school safety in the City of Minneapolis. Below are just are a few of the other initiatives to achieve this goal in Minneapolis. Call Amy Phenix, Minneapolis Mayor’s Office, (612) 673-2156 for more information or a full "best practices" description on any of the following.

The Beacons Project

In November 1997, Minneapolis was selected by the Dewitt-Wallace Readers Digest Fund as one of four communities nationwide to receive a 3-year grant of up to $1 million to create "Beacons" schools.

Beacons are extended-service schools run by community-based organizations in partnership with school districts. They offer children and their families a range of education, career development and recreation services and may be open before and after the traditional school day, as well as weekends and over the summer. Beacons are located in schools serving high concentrations of low-income children and families. A key goal of the Beacons initiative is to improve academic achievement by linking its programming to the daily academics of students.

Five Minneapolis schools have been selected for the first implementation phase of the initiative, to begin in fall 1998. When the initiative is fully implemented, ten of the City’s most disadvantaged schools will be served.

Key partners for the Beacons Project include: The YMCA of Greater Minneapolis; the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board (YCB); and Minneapolis Public Schools’ Family and Community Education Services.

Minneapolis Redesign

Minneapolis Redesign is a collaborative effort between families, communities, schools, and public, private, and nonprofit organizations working together to bring health, social services and other community resources into school buildings, making it easier for families to access resources, and for schools and human services to coordinate their activities on behalf of children and families. The goal is healthy development and school success for all Minneapolis children and youth.

Currently, five Minneapolis Public Schools are Minneapolis Redesign sites. Typical services include physical, mental and dental health services, parent education, information and referral, support groups, after school activities, child development screening, youth groups and parent-child activities. The majority of funds come from a Local Collaborative Time Study, which allows Minneapolis to collect Federal funding for reimbursement of qualifying activities.

Youth in Minneapolis After School Program (Y-MAP)

Y-MAP is a collaborative effort to provide after-school programs for middle-school age youth. Each year, more than 50 programs are awarded funds to support activities. Y-MAP is funded by the City of Minneapolis.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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