Local View: 'Kids do better when they feel better'

Dani Barto.jpg
Dani Barto

While the Northland is rich in green spaces, lakes, good people, and opportunity, too many of our neighbors face obstacles that disrupt their quality of life. Children are especially vulnerable to the long-term impact of difficult life experiences.

True North AmeriCorps can help.

Some families in Duluth and surrounding areas face barriers in receiving the national and community services they need, a trend far too common. This is why True North Americorps has expanded to rural locations across Northeastern Minnesota, including new partner sites at Barnum Elementary, Deer River’s King Elementary, Ely’s Washington Elementary, and Floodwood Elementary. Unique opportunities are offered at these locations within proud communities. True North AmeriCorps is helping strong communities thrive by providing students with the emotional support they deserve within their own towns.

True North AmeriCorps members come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and all have a passion to serve. Our members are thoughtful, tenacious, kind, energetic, and willing to learn with the children they get to know. Members bring in social and emotional learning activities to complement the existing programs and protocols of our partner sites. The members, students, and faculty work together toward the success of the youth using holistic support methods.

National service is also beneficial for those who serve. True North AmeriCorps members receive modest living stipends, tuition assistance, student loan forbearance, professional development, health insurance, YMCA memberships, and the ability to make lasting connections with their communities. Those interested in education, social work, justice, and youth development find their experiences and training to be invaluable in their future career pursuits.


As a licensed teacher, I can attest to the fact that children struggle to learn new concepts when they are emotionally irregulated. It’s amazing how different the atmosphere can become if there is an additional caring adult ready to offer support.

Our members know there is no such thing as a bad kid and provide one-on-one or small-group skill-building activities to the youth they serve on a regular basis. The methods used are affirming, fun, and impactful; kids do better when they feel better.

True North AmeriCorps is a program of the Duluth Area Family YMCA and firmly upholds a “for-all” message. We pride ourselves on being an equal-opportunity service provider. Qualified individuals with diverse abilities are encouraged to apply. We celebrate diversity and inclusion and are committed to treating people respectfully. The Corporation for National and Community Service prohibits discrimination based on race, color, age, national origin, assigned sex, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, marital or parental status, religion, political affiliation, or disability.

Minimum qualifications: 18 or older, a citizen or lawful resident alien of the U.S., a high school diploma or GED equivalent, basic computer skills, and a passed criminal background check.

Dani Barto is program coordinator for True North AmeriCorps (

What To Read Next
Get Local