Avenue Partners with YMCA of Greater Houston to Bring New Early Childhood Education Center to Near Northside
New Facility Will Help Address Shortage of Early Childhood Education Capacity in Community
HOUSTON – (July 16, 2020) – Avenue, a local nonprofit dedicated to developing affordable homes and strengthening communities, has announced a partnership with the YMCA of Greater Houston to bring a new early childhood education facility to Avenue Center, a new community resource center that is coming to Near Northside. The facility will first open in August as the new headquarters for Avenue and will offer virtual services until in-person services can resume.
The new YMCA Children’s Academy will help address the shortage of early childhood education capacity in the Near Northside community and will be a much-needed resource for working families. The new facility will provide YMCA the opportunity to introduce infant care to the community, a service that the neighborhood has previously lacked, and will accommodate up to 70 children ranging in age from six weeks to five years. The Y has been an early care provider in that community since the 80s. This presents an opportunity to expand that service to include the younger ages in a state-of-the-art building designed to address their unique developmental and educational needs. This underscores our continued dedication to the Near Northside community and the importance of access for all to build a firm foundation through early education. To increase access for low-income families, financial assistance will be available to help with monthly costs.
“Research continues to show that low-income families are challenged by a lack of access to quality early care for children. That’s why we are delighted to partner with YMCA of Greater Houston to help provide quality early childhood education resources in Near Northside,” said Mary Lawler, executive director at Avenue. “Recent studies have shown that more than 40 percent of the neighborhood’s children reside in a household where both parents work, which requires childcare outside of the home. The facilities at The YMCA Children’s Academy will not only help address this pressing need – they will also contribute to the long-term health and wellbeing of working families in the neighborhood.”
The YMCA Children’s Academy, which will replace an existing YMCA program that is currently housed at Second Christian Church, will be located on the first floor of Avenue Center. Construction on the academy and outdoor playground begins this month and services are expected to open to neighborhood families in late fall 2020.
“Our mission is to ensure all communities have access to critical resources, including education,” states Stephen Ives, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Houston. “We are honored to partner with Avenue in order to offer an early education program for families with children in the Near Northside.”
Located at 3517 Irvington Blvd., Avenue Center features approximately 30,500 square feet of community programming space. In addition to the new YMCA Children’s Academy, the community hub will offer Greater Northside residents access to a wide variety of programs and services, including a new Legacy Community Health Clinic, homebuyer education and counseling, post-purchase and foreclosure prevention counseling, financial education through the BBVA Center for Financial Education, and space for community meetings and training classes. A grand opening celebration is tentatively scheduled for early 2021.
While announcing Avenue Center’s development last year, Lawler emphasized the goal of conveniently co-locating a variety of vital resources for residents, especially low-income families, to improve access to essential support services that will improve the quality of life for individuals and the community as a whole.
In 2017, Near Northside, the neighborhood where Avenue’s facility will be located, was designated as one of five pilot neighborhoods for Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Complete Communities initiative, which focuses on ensuring Houston communities have the quality of life elements needed for residents to live and prosper in their own neighborhoods. These elements include adequate access to healthcare, educational resources, healthy groceries, parks and green space, quality public transit and economic opportunities.
Avenue is currently in the midst of an ongoing capital campaign that has raised more than $10.6 million for Avenue Center from organizations that include the City of Houston, BBVA, Complete Communities Improvement Fund, Houston Endowment, Fondren Foundation, The J.E. & L.E. Mabee Foundation, Midway Foundation, Bank of America, The Brown Foundation, The Cullen Foundation, Hess Corporation, and Camden.
Over the past 29 years, Avenue has helped revitalize Houston neighborhoods by leveraging more than $117 million in investments for developments, including 200 single-family homes, 748 rental units and 140,000 square feet of commercial space. Avenue has been recognized nationally with the prestigious Jack Kemp Excellence in Affordable and Workforce Housing Award from Urban Land Institute.
For more information about Avenue’s community development and revitalization efforts visit, http://avenuecdc.org/.
Avenue’s mission is to build affordable homes and strengthen communities. The organization enhances the quality of life of working families and works to promote healthy, vibrant and economically diverse neighborhoods that are essential to Houston’s future as a world-class city. Avenue develops homes for purchase and rent as well as provides homebuyer education and counseling to help working families buy and maintain their own homes. We promote economic development and offer supportive services such as computer labs, after-school programs, and nutrition, fitness, and financial literacy classes that enrich the lives of the individuals and families we serve. Avenue is a member of the nationwide NeighborWorks® Network of more than 245 community development organizations working in nearly 4,358 urban, suburban and rural communities across America. Connect with Avenue on Facebook: http://bit.ly/FBAvenueCDC and Twitter: https://twitter.com/AvenueCDC.
About YMCA of Greater Houston
Founded in 1886, today the Y remains committed to the health of more than half a million people in Greater Houston who learn, grow and thrive through programs and services at our 25 centers. Strengthening community is our cause. Together, we connect active, engaged Greater Houston Area residents to build a better us.