For 12 years, Andre Dukes, MA ’ , has been working in North Minneapolis on issues of child development, and on child welfare issues more broadly since 2006. Currently, he serves as the vice president of family and community impact for the Northside Achievement Zone, or NAZ. NAZ seeks to end generational poverty in the area by working with low-income families as they put their children on a path to college.
As vice president, Dukes is focused on finding strategies to achieve the greatest possible results to achieve community-level change. For this reason, he knew the Institute of Child Development’s infant mental health certificate and the applied child and adolescent development master’s program would be the perfect fit for his needs.
“These programs have expanded my knowledge and understanding of the developmental needs of children,” he says. “They shaped my view of the importance of the early years of life on brain development.”
Helping Dukes with the means to acquire this knowledge was the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Fellowship. The fellowship is for students pursuing graduate study in infant and early childhood mental health through the Institute of Child Development, especially those who will enhance the diversity of the student body to help meet statewide demand for an early childhood workforce that reflects the diversity of the children they serve.
“These programs have expanded my knowledge of the developmental needs of children.”
Dukes says the fellowship and his subsequent certificate and degree have given him the means to support students in a more holistic way as he works to prepare them for kindergarten and future academic success.
“I have been able to use my training to bridge gaps between current early childhood systems and the needs of children into adolescence,” he says. “This has been a valuable tool in addressing issues of trauma and cultural competence that have not historically been considered in the developmental standards and expectations of children.”
Dukes was so impressed with these new tools that he made a gift to the school last fall in order that others may share in similar opportunities to support children.
“I am grateful to the Institute of Child Development for its support and commitment to my work and for expanding the field to promote the healthy development of all children in our communities,” he says.
Story by Kevin Moe | Photos courtesy of TJ Turner | Fall 2021
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