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 Island View community on the east side of the Detroit. 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 the following:
• Bicycle repair training / BH – Bike shop
• Computer repair and user training
• Music / FIRE Marching band
• Leather crafting / New work leather
• Silk Screen Printing / Kill The Hate
• Agricultural / Garden of Eating
• Employment and job readiness training / Michigan Share Network
• Audio-Video production / I AM Productions
• Male mentoring program / Aim High
Church of the Messiah also has a Housing Corporation that provides 220 units of low income housing.
Equitable Internet Initiative Goals
The BLVD Harambee Empowerment Center offers a “Build a computer program” which allows young people the opportunity to learn basic computer construction and components 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 Centers computer lab to perform research and complete homework assignments because they had no internet at home. This EII will help our organization resolve that issue and as a result fulfill the vision that the original program intended.
Our goal is two-fold.
First, to provide high-speed internet to our local community in an attempt to empower/inform them so that they will have some of the tools needed to be involved with the redevelopment of our community to ensure positive change that benefits the entire community.
Secondly. to provided hands on training to assist young people with developing a skill that could lead to possible employment or developing a business.
In addition, we believe this project will assist in the Harambee portion of our organization by developing personal relationship during the design and implementation process of the project.