The Brookland Center for Community Economic Change (BCCEC) acquired a former school to establish the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center (BLEC) as a community service center to house a number of social service programs such as senior services, youth educational and athletic programs, human services, wellness/health services, feeding programs, and workforce development and entrepreneurial programs. Founded in 2008, the BLEC serves over 15,000 individuals per year. We offer a deliberate mix of services and programs to foster change relative to the prevailing economic conditions and to aggressively and consciously deal with social problems—underemployment, unemployment, academic failure, food insecurity, lack of job skills, accessibility to services due to location, crime, transportation, and health information particularly related to COVID-19 relief services. The BLEC is dependent upon outside funding in the form of grants, donations and major gifts to accomplish its mission of improving the quality of life for adults and youth by creating programs and activities to fulfill local residents’ social, physical, emotional and intellectual needs.
The BLEC is currently offering multiple programs to the community. Our youth are engaged in STEM/STEAM after-school programming, tutoring, recreational sports leagues (Pop Warner Football, AAU Basketball, cheerleading) and enrichment activities that provide exposure to culture, physical fitness, etiquette, self-esteem, mutual respect, character development and nutrition. Through nutrition and cooking classes, aerobics and exercise, mental health promotion activities, recreational teams, computer courses, mobility by providing transportation, the BLEC is dedicated to helping senior citizens remain active, engaged and independent. The residential area most proximal is a community whose residents are disproportionately represented as below poverty. The BLEC is located in an economic development zone eligible for special economic incentives for businesses and to encourage growth. Plans and programs for the building are being designed so that low-to-moderate income persons are being specifically targeted for these services.