|“You asked for this as part of my Complete Communities initiative, and we are now well on the way to seeing this vision come to fruition,” said Mayor Turner. “ The Bethune Empowerment Center represents so much more than brick and mortar. It is a testament to what collaboration, support, commitment, dedication, resiliency, and public, private and community partnerships can achieve.”
The City of Houston contributed $4 million community development block grant funds (CDBG) to begin the renovations at the center and an additional $1.5 million in CDBG funds for Phase 2.
Phase 1 involved the renovation of three existing buildings, including the administrative offices, a classroom, a community event space, the purchase of a new electric control panel and a computer lab, generously funded by AT&T.
“AT&T’s support of the Bethune Empowerment Center and our investment in building another Connected Learning Center here in Houston reflect our commitment to helping bridge the digital divide and making an impact in the communities we serve,” said Tanya Makany-Rivera, Director of External and Legislative Affairs, AT&T-Texas. “Once open, the Connected Learning Center will help equip Acres Homes area youth, families, and seniors with the resources they need to strengthen digital literacy skills, apply for jobs, access healthcare and so much more.”
Sponsors Reliant, North Houston Pole Line Company, and Amerigroup/Anthem also played a vital role in helping bring Phase 1 across the finish line, with Reliant providing a $500,000 donation.
“We’re thrilled residents can now enjoy the new classroom and community event space at the Bethune Empowerment Center,’ said Elizabeth Killinger, president of Reliant. “Reliant has had a longtime commitment to supporting the Acres Home community and has been committed to this project from the beginning. We were happy to support the phase one renovations. We look forward to seeing the positive impact the BEC will have on this historic neighborhood.”
North Houston Pole Line Supplier Diversity Director Denise Wallace, echoes those sentiments. “Today’s event was a spectacular. North Houston Pole Line is proud to be a partner and sponsor for the Bethune Empowerment Center. We are forever grateful to be a part of this amazing community.”
Phase 2 which will begin on Monday, will include the renovation of four additional buildings, encompassing a commercial kitchen, a workforce development training center with electric vehicle charging stations in partnership with Lone Star College, a community garden, and a childcare facility.
Congresswomen Sheila Jackson Lee (D-18) secured $2 million in HUD funding for Phase 2 for the Bethune Empowerment Center.
“This is just the latest example of the importance of direct federal funding to communities. I was pleased to champion, and work with my Colleagues in the House to provide $3 million dollars in funding to the Complete Communities initiative through a Community Project Funding request made by the City of Houston to restore the Bethune Empowerment Center as a place of historic and social significance.”