WE WIN Institute (WE WIN) is a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to the mission of creating academic and social success for all children. WE WIN provides a safe and nurturing environment for young people and works to increase parental involvement in the lives of their children and in their child’s schools.  WE WIN gives children a base of knowledge in core subjects and assists them in developing the skills that they need to grow into successful and responsible adults. Our programs are focused on giving youth and families tools to create long-term and systemic change in their lives and communities.


WE WIN’s program goals are centered on challenging young people to reach their highest potential. We strive to ensure the youth involved in our programs, many of whom are not typically involved in out-of-school time programming, make their communities brighter for the future. Through literacy, mentoring, and educational activities WE WIN strives to achieve these goals:


  • Support the academic, social, emotional, and physical growth of youth participants.

  • Develop the leadership skills of youth through active involvement in WE WIN’s curriculum and through contributions to the community.

  • Provide youth with academic and life readiness skills that help youth succeed in school and in life.


In the fall of 1995, Lyndale school (Minneapolis Public School) teacher Titilayo (Titi) Bediako saw the need to build the youth of the future by celebrating and honoring cultural differences. WE WIN, which began with one program and 25 children, and has grown to include free parent groups, after school, tutoring, and summer programs, and Kwanzaa Celebrations each year and as of 2014, has served over 5000 youth and families, creating long-term and systemic change in their lives and communities.


Ms. Bediako, the founder and creator of WE WIN received the 2002 National Education Association’s Trensholm Award, which is awarded to only two educators in the United States in recognition of her educational innovations and dedication to at-risk youth. Since gaining her Masters Degree and retiring from teaching in public schools, she has put all of her time and energy into creating change for the youth of tomorrow. 



WE WIN Institute has one expectation for all the children we work with: Give your best to everything you do!


Pulled from WE WIN Twitter 1/13/15


“WE WIN can be the difference that African American and all children need to be successful in school and in their life.”  -Titilayo Bediako, Executive Director


How can parents, teachers and the community know today’s Black child will grow and prosper? How can society ensure that child will learn in a system with all-inclusive educational resources? In a system that reinforces or introduces fundamental social skills? How can society not let down that Black child who needs to be emotionally and intellectually equipped to develop in a time where “hoodies” and “hands up” and “can't breathe” are familiar catchwords for Black men and where Black women are objectified in music videos?


WE WIN, a non-profit after school program, is all about success for all children. It is where staff are working with Twin Cities area African American students to counteract some of Minnesota’s 35% disparity in graduation rates between white and black students. (One Minneapolis Community Indicators Report, 2013.)


A child growing up in poverty and dangerous situations can be negatively affected unless there are workable solutions. [1] Without positive reinforcement and sustainable opportunities, odds increase for harmful outcomes. WE WIN is helping children beat the odds. So far, WE WIN has touched the lives of more than 5,000 students in a 20-year period. Each year, although their resources are stretched to the limit, staff and faculty work with approximately 300 children and their families.  


When children walk through the doors at WE WIN they see images of people of African descent, including leaders, scientists, artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs. It is a place where children feel safe and appreciated for who they are and where they are in life today.


[1] Capra, Theresa. Poverty and its Impact on Education: Today and Tomorrow



Children of color are struggling to learn in an educational system that—itself—is learning to under-stand, value and work with cultural differences and values. With a few exceptions, teachers do not have relationships with the community where they work and lack the experience to work with children of color from impoverished environments. Teachers work with standardized lessons and textbooks that merely touch on the challenges of poverty. [2]


The United States is one of the largest developed countries in the world. It also has one of the largest gaps between its rich and poor populations and the largest achievement gap in its educational system. Minnesota has not dodged the problem. 


The Minneapolis school district is working for systemic change. Their goal is to reduce the achievement gap by implementing projects that increase cultural competency, increase awareness about the life of students of color, and stress the importance of cultural sensitivity in its curriculum.


Until the district can facilitate change throughout the system children will need alternatives to help bridge educational shortcomings. Some after-school programs occupy off hours with creative activities and exercise programs, but they lack adequate academic focus and a majority of the mentors and staff are white.


Everyone who works with WE WIN has high expectations for the students. Instructors bring together language arts, spelling, letter recognition, and syllable recognition with Kwanzaa and other African American philosophies to promote the accomplishments of African American she-roes and he-roes. WE WIN serves the needs of all students from all cultures. Each child learns about her or his rich culture and history. 


[2] Capra, Theresa, Ibid

“Students become more motivated and more likely to apply all of their energy and efforts to tasks assigned them when they can relate the assignments to real life situations.”


Demetrist Howard, Doctoral Dissertation

Capella University, May 2006


Men and Women of Distinction mission:


“To promote academic and social success through layered mentoring, sisterhood, culture and community.”

What works. Twenty-seven percent of Minneapolis Public School students report they don’t have a caring adult outside of their family. Research shows that a supportive and caring adult can play a critical role in helping young people overcome barriers to education and decrease their chances of being involved in violence. (Minneapolis Foundation, “One Minneapolis Report: Connecting Caring Adults with Kids: Tried-and-True Ingredient for Success in School & Life.”)


A successful, well-rounded child exhibits five qualities:

1) self-esteem/self-worth, 2) willingness to learn, 3) ability to love, 4) good character, and 5) resilience. [3]


Self-esteem/self-worth is achieved through a student’s pride in accomplishments. It influences choices and decisions and how that child demonstrates responsibility and self-control.


When WE WIN children feel good about themselves, recognize their success potential, and engage in creative projects they become leaders where incredible things happen.  It is a place where each child develops a “can do” attitude. The staff instills confidence by helping students with homework and combining that support with culturally oriented study aids.  Students learn how people of color, like themselves, contribute to government, the economy and society. They quickly see what they learn today can be used in everyday situations. 


Children are high-spirited; how that energy is channeled will determine immediate and long term results.  WE WIN staff shows how mutual respect as a guiding principle can be the basis for constructive criticism to correct behavior and improve self-monitoring.


Teenagers in WE WIN participate in the “Rites of Passage” program where they learn discipline, leadership, family values, and good health. They improve their chances to become responsible, caring and proud responsible adults.


There is also “Men and Women of Distinction,” a layered mentoring program that promotes academic and social success.  On average, girls in this program have reduced tardiness, unexcused absences and truancies. Boys have improved their academics, learned anger management, increased community service, learned about the contributions of Black men to the world and society, and learned the value of respecting women and girls.


[3] Lifefamilyeducation.com



Willingness to learn is not only achieved through conventional means, it is a nurturing of curiosity. It is building up courage to go outside of one’s comfort zone to ask questions and explore new ideas. And it is the excitement in that “a-ha!” moment.


When school is out, education continues at WE WIN. The summer program offers creative activities in art, music, and computing with an academic focus.


The program introduces students to a world of new experiences with field trips to museums and the theater. Students are taught responsibility with community outreach. They do speaking engagements, and put on plays to increase awareness about cultural pride and about recognizing and addressing adverse situations.


Low-income children may not always be able to visit a farm or grow a garden in their back yard, so every summer WE WIN students plant a one and half acre garden and two smaller community gardens. They till the soil, plant fruit and vegetables, fertilize and weed the garden and prepare the crops to sell to the public and create community meals. This kind of experiential learning teaches the basics in healthy living, social responsibility and the value of enterprise.


The ability to love and good character build good relationships. These traits can also help discourage addiction and antisocial behavior. [4] WE WIN builds on personal pride for the student and teacher.


Whether or not social skills begin at home, they happen at WE WIN: Students enjoy a nurturing, family-like environment. They learn by example from teachers and staff who love their jobs and genuinely care about the welfare of each child. By working at WE WIN, teachers continue learning how to appreciate the life and times of Black people. They appreciate how people of color worked hard to get where they are today and even harder to stay there. They pass that knowledge along to their young charges, urging them to excel and to be the best they can be.


Resilience is a teachable and learnable quality that can help children survive and learn from tough situations. It is being able to bounce back in the face of adversity.


The core of WE WIN programs is having a positive attitude that contributes to resilience. Having the skills to reject violence and drugs in the home and on the streets is a big part of resilience for a child of color. WE WIN students use creative activities to express their fears and feelings with poems, plays, and posters about non-violence.


WE WIN teaches skills that prepare young minds to:

  • Cope with stressors and deal with change.

  • Recognize and handle stressful situations.

  • Rely on their morals and values to effect change.

  • Realize that through resilience they can avoid negative situations and make productive and positive decisions.


[4] http://parentingtheatriskchild.com/