BLVD Harambee Empowerment Center
BLVD Harambee Empowerment Center is a ministry of the Church of the Messiah (B=Building, L=Leaders, for V=Village, D=Development. Harambee means "all pull together" in Swahili). The Church of the Messiah is a 142-year-old non-traditional Episcopal church that focuses on needs and issues correlated with the Islandview community. The church’s primary focus is young people; the congregation is 60% African-American male under the age of thirty.
The BLVD Harambee Empowerment Center was created to empower young people by equipping them with skills that inspire the entrepreneurial spirit/mindset. The center currently provides bicycle repair training, computer repair and user training, music, leather crafting, screenprinting, a male mentoring program, and more. The Build-a-Computer program allows young people the opportunity to learn basic computer construction while building a computer that will belong to them once complete. After several successful sessions of the program, we realized the students were still utilizing the Center's computer lab to perform research and complete homework assignments, because they had no internet at home. EII will help our organization resolve that issue and fulfill the vision that the Build-a-Computer program intended.
Our goal is two-fold. First, to provide high-speed internet to our local community in an attempt to empower/inform them. This will provide some of the tools needed to be involved with the redevelopment of our neighborhood, to ensure positive change that benefits the entire community. Second, to provided hands-on training to assist young people with developing a skill that could lead to possible employment or developing a business. We believe this project will assist BLVD Harambee by developing personal relationships over the course of the project.