Northstar History



Theory of Change & Facility Design:

The theory of change informing NorthStar’s service delivery is straightforward. NorthStar will deploy its continuum of Five Core Programs:  Academics, Athletics, Arts, Outdoor & Experiental Learning, and Employment Readiness, with a singular goal of dramatically expanding the academic and behavioral engagement of each program participant. For black males, increased behavioral and academic engagement is correlated with higher rates of successful completion of 9th grade on time, and on grade-level.[1] Successful 9th grade completion leads to greater probability of high school graduation, leading to pathways to post-secondary education, enhanced employability, and, ultimately, improved, sustained quality of life.


The NorthStar facility, itself, is a vital element of realizing organizational outcomes for North Omaha’s young men.  The scope of program impact is significantly expanded because of the facility’s location. Seventy-three percent of Nebraska’s middle school-aged black males live in Douglas County.  The NorthStar facility is located at the epicenter of a neighborhood containing a concentrated proportion of these targeted service beneficiaries, with 56% of Douglas County’s middle school-aged black males residing within a 7-minute drive of the program campus.[2]


Findings emerging from an ongoing study conducted through New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development highlights that “behavioral engagement (i.e., knowing how to do school) is the greatest predictor of academic achievement” among young black male students.[3]  These same studies have found that key “ecological” factors, such as safety, and peer support and cohesion, are critical to ensuring the sustained academic engagement of black male students.  Research, also, shows that boys are more likely to be kinesthetic learners and, thus, require an educational environment allowing for movement and active involvement that is not often found in traditional education settings.[4]






[1] “Theories of Change among Single-Sex Schools for Black and Latino Boys: An Intervention in Search of Theory,” April 2010, NYU Metropolitan Center for Urban Education.

[2] United States Census Bureau / American FactFinder. “PCT12: Black Alone, Sex Alone, Year/Age – Nebraska and Douglas County.” 2007 – 2011 American Community Survey. U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey Office, 2011. Web. 10 December 2013.

[3] “The Academic Characteristics of Black and Latino Boys that Matter in Achievement: An Exploratory Achievement Model of Boys in Single-Sex Schools,” August 2010, NYU Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. This multi-year, major study compares “the effectiveness of sex-single sex versus co-educational schools in meeting the academic and social needs of low-income, black and Latino male students.”

[4] Christopher Edmin, “Yes, Black Males are Different, but Different is Not Deficient,” Education Week, February 3, 2012.