The Northwest Minnesota Foundation sponsors the STAR Team Program for youth leadership. Students Teaching Attitudes of Respect (STAR) is a program designed to increase awareness for students in the areas of community building, media, specific skills needed to deal with conflict, and the utilization of personal power and strengths. The goal is to model and support a positive school culture.

Our philosophy/belief is that if we are to create more respectful communities and homes, it can only happen when individuals take the time to learn necessary life skills, then integrate them into their own lives. These skills are taught to teams of six students and an advisor from schools or sponsoring organizations in NMF’s 12-county service area.

Up to six teams attend a session scheduled in the fall and host a site visit by STAR trainers in the winter months for the second part of their training. The two-day overnight sessions are held at Concordia Language Villages near Bemidji.

Advisors are usually school social workers, teachers or parents interested in facilitating a group of 6th or 7th grade students as they participate in the year-long STAR Program. Advisors also participate in a training session early in the fall focusing on team building, skill building, and motivating their STAR Team as they develop activities and projects to promote a positive school culture.

The program is delivered by trainers from Peacemaker Resources. Assisting the trainers are the Youth Advocates or YAs, who mentor and teach the 6th and 7th grade students as they go through the fall STAR Program training. YAs are frequently college students or recent graduates whose majors include education, social work, or other related disciplines or have an interest in working with young people. They model respectful behavior and are present for the “teachable moment” to facilitate discussions and resolve differences. The presence of the YAs also allows the advisors time for training, discussions and networking about the program.

During the year, the teams are encouraged to partner with another school and present programs with the assistance of the home STAR team. STAR Team members build relationships with other schools that are not based on competitive sports, but are built on respect principles. Their leadership skills are more fully developed as they learn to share lessons on the life-skills learned in the sessions. The teams will receive assistance from NMF as they accomplish this component of their year-long project.

Registration opens each year on July 1 for sessions that begin the following fall. A maximum of six teams is accepted each session, in order to maintain a ratio of approximately two students per adult ensuring a positive, skill-building retreat.

For information about Peacemaker Resources, please visit their website