After 40 years of serving pregnant and parenting teens in the SWMetro District 288, New Beginnings High School will now be able to offer safe and secure housing through a program called Beyond New Beginnings.
The school, located in Chaska, features full-time academic programming in addition to pregnancy counseling, parenting education and childbirth preparation.
The goal is to help young mothers develop independent living skills and a career plan for self-sufficiency. But many students in the program lacked stable housing, making it difficult to show up to class and plan for the future.
“We’ve always known that some of our students struggle with housing insecurity,” said Board Secretary Jill Engeswick.
In 2019, Engeswick teamed up with two other community members, Sue Schmidt and Russell St. John, to start working toward a practical solution.
“Our initial dream was to raise money for a couple of years and then build something for six, eight or ten families. That was our vision,” said Engeswick.
A new vision came to life early, when the Carver County Community Development Agency (CCCDA) designated one of their Chaska rental properties as housing for the Beyond New Beginnings Program. The property has four two-bedroom apartments and a large group area. CCCDA will manage the leases and maintain the property. Participants will pay 30 percent of their income towards rent. Engeswick expects the apartments to be full by the end of this year.
“Right now, we are going to focus on this and do the best job we can with these four families. Hopefully, it will meet a need that’s out there,” she said.
Participants in Beyond New Beginnings will be required to attend certain programming events. That includes mentor meetings, empowerment classes, life skills, and parenting curriculum, as well as public health and mental health services.
“We want them to come back and be part of our community in a meaningful way and feel good about themselves and create a better future for their child,” Engeswick said.
If the program goes well and there is a greater need and desire, the board hopes to build even more housing options in the future.
Candidates for the Beyond New Beginnings program must be graduates of New Beginnings High School or currently enrolled, have at least 50 percent custody of their child, and be between the ages of 18 and 26.
Beyond New Beginnings is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and relies on fundraising efforts, instead of taxpayer dollars.
If you would like to support Beyond New Beginnings, send a check to BNB, P.O. Box 203, Chaska, MN 55318.
Email Beyondnewbeginnings2020@gmail.com with any questions.