by Sandra Williams, Executive Director
Things have been very busy at the Carl Maxey Center. The first phase of our remodel is well underway and it will build out a community gathering space for meetings, training, events and program delivery. Phase I has been fully funded through a combination of donations, private funds and $350,000 that was included in the WA State Capital budget. Senator Andy Billig and Representatives Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli joined our Project Manager Rusty Pritchard, General Contractor Deacon Band and our Board members for a socially distanced walk-through on November 10 so that we could show off our progress and say thank you for their support. The target date for completion of Phase I is May/June 2021.
We hired Brianna Rollins last year as our Program Manager. She has been offering support to local Black-owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through Brianna’s efforts, Spokane now has a Black Business Directory (blackspokane.com) and we are in the early stages of developing the Spokane Black Business and Professional Alliance. We hosted our first BBPA Roundtable via zoom in September with thirty people in attendance.
This winter, the Carl Maxey Center partnered with the Spokane Ministers Fellowship, the Emmanuel Family Life Center and Jesus is the Answer City Church to participate in a rental assistance program offered through the City of Spokane and Spokane County through SNAP. We were able to assist over 100 families with up to three months rent in an effort to prevent evictions. We also partnered with the Spokane NAACP and the Spokane Ministerial Fellowship to apply for an All in for Washington grant to provide emergency cash assistance to individuals and families impacted by COVID-19. We were able to provide direct cash assistance to over 100 families in Spokane’s African American community.
The Carl Maxey Center partnered with the Black Employee Network at Comcast to create a Student Tech Fund to offer families participating in the rental assistance program and other families throughout Spokane access to technology and supplies to support remote learning. The student tech fund is just the first of what we hope are many efforts directed at minimizing the negative impact that remote learning is having on Black students.
In addition to adding Brianna, we also added a bookkeeper, Dorothy, to keep us all in line, and we have three interns working with us. Anesu, who came to us through a partnership with Mark & Kara Odegard at Measure Meant, and Chauncella and Brianna, two Whitworth University students who are developing a History of Black Spokane curriculum for the Center.
In 2021, we will continue to address the impact of COVID-19 on Spokane’s Black community. We will be expanding our technical support for Black owned businesses, focusing our attention on developing a racial justice legal clinic and continuing our participation in the East 5th Avenue Initiative to promote economic develop in the East Central neighborhood.
For more information or to support the Carl Maxey Center visit carlmaxeycenter.org.