Urban League of Greater New Orleans Opens New Head Start Center in the 9th Ward Decimated by Katrina, New Center Ushers in New Era
Seven years after Hurricane Katrina forced closure of the Urban League Head Start Center in Uptown New Orleans, the Urban League is preparing to open the doors on a new $2.6 million dollar Head Start facility in the Ninth Ward, which will usher in a new era of opportunities for residents of the Desire community.
Since Hurricane Katrina, the Urban League has operated the Head Start program from leased offices at Covenant House on N. Rampart Street. Preliminary plans for the new Urban League Center were underway pre-Katrina, and were re-ignited post-Katrina by a $1.1M commitment from Total Community Action, Inc., the local Head Start Grantee, and a 1.5M Community Development Block Grant from the City of New Orleans. Additional support for the project came in the form of a land donation from the Housing Authority of New Orleans for the purpose of making free quality early education services accessible in a community where none existed. The property is a 2.2 acre lot bounded by Desire Parkway, Industry Street, Agriculture and Piety Streets, adjacent to the vacant Desire Community Development Corp. and Desire Multi-Service Health Center.
|See Pictures from the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony|
Nolan Rollins, President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans said "the development is central to the re-emergence of a major economic hub in the area most widely affected by Katrina that includes the Almonaster Industrial Development District, the Industrial Canal Transportation Corridor and the Riverfront Industrial Development Corridor. Nowhere in our city is there a greater need for Head Start and other family services than in the Desire, which attracted Liberty Bank to provide gap financing for the project and tax credits through its Community Development Entity, Liberty Community Ventures. As investor, First NBC Bank also recognized the need to invest in Desire and made the project a reality with the purchase of the tax credits.
The new facility, named in honor of the longest serving President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, Clarence L. Barney, will triple the program's capacity to a projected enrollment of 60 students. The Head Start center will also provide administrative offices for teachers and administrators, educational resources, exterior recreational areas, food service and parking for staff and visitors. Additional service provisions include fatherhood initiatives, financial literacy, career exploration, interview skills, and resume preparation, parent information and training, and entrepreneurial services.
"The new facility should not be looked upon as just a center to serve children, because it is so much more. It is a symbol of positive change and stability that comes from within where the community feels empowered to create their vision, recognizing the importance of working with both public and private sector partners," Rollins said. "We expect the development of the Urban League Head Start Center to serve as the catalyst and kickoff point for additional development initiatives in the area."
A press conference for the official opening will take place Saturday, July 28th, 3:00 pm at 2800 Desire Parkway. The ribbon cutting ceremony will also serve as the backdrop for community giveaways of family kits consisting of free school supplies, dental, family library, "Home is Where the Heart Is", and hurricane kits that are being assembled as part of the National Urban League Conference Volunteer Day of Service. Joining Rollins are Marc H. Morial, President & CEO of the National Urban League, Volunteer Day of Service sponsor Volkswagen, and family kit contributors Chevron and Walgreens.For more information on the new Urban League Clarence L. Barney Head Start Center or the giveaway of family kits, contact Cathy Washington at 504.416.0221.