The Near Northside is getting an early childhood education academy that will be located at the newly constructed Avenue Center at 3517 Irvington Blvd., according to a news release from Houston-based nonprofit community builder Avenue CDC.
Avenue Center, a community center for the neighborhood slated to open in August, features approximately 30,500 square feet of community programming space. In addition to the new YMCA Children’s Academy, the community hub will offer nearby residents access to a 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.
The YMCA Children’s Academy will help address the shortage of early childhood education capacity in the Near Northside community. It will enable the YMCA 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 6 weeks to 5 years.
While the YMCA has been an early care provider in the community since the 1980s, the Avenue space allows the expansion for the younger ages in a modern building designed to address their unique developmental and educational needs. 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 CDC. “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 will replace an existing YMCA program that is currently housed at Second Christian Church, and 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.
“Our mission is to ensure all communities have access to critical resources, including education,” said Stephen Ives, president and CEO of 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.”
In 2017, Near Northside 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 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.
For more information about Avenue’s community development and revitalization efforts visit, http://avenuecdc.org/.