Ald. Emma Mitts (37th Ward), Congressman Danny Davis and others joined By The Hand and Moving Everest officials snipping the ribbon at 416 N. Laramie Ave, Chicago, to mark the opening of the 52,000 sq. ft., three-story By The Hand Club, which will lease the facility to Moving Everest Charter School during the school day.
“If you wish to move a mountain tomorrow, you must start by lifting stones today,” said Donnita Travis, founder and executive director of By The Hand, quoting an African proverb. Children and guests were given small stones, signifying the words of the proverb.
“The stones represent the opening of this new building and school as more steps we are taking as a community to give children in Chicago opportunities to achieve fulfilling and abundant lives,” Ms. Travis said. “It happens one step at a time, or in this case, one stone at a time.”
“Classes begin August 24 with kindergarten and first grade and a grade will be added each year,” explained Michael Rogers, executive director of Chicago Education Partnership and founder of Moving Everest. The school will accommodate 540 students, kindergarten through fifth grade.
“Moving Everest is here to provide parents in Austin with a compelling educational choice that will prepare their children for academic success, help them become proficient and enthusiastic readers, develop strong character and allow them to enter and excel in a college preparatory high school, “ Mr. Rogers added.
At the close of school each day, parents may choose to have their children attend By The Hand Club, which will provide wrap-around holistic services after school, including tutoring, social activities and spiritual guidance.
By The Hand is a faith-based, after-school program founded in 2001 with 16 children in Cabrini-Green. It now serves more than 1,000 kids, first through twelfth grades, in four of Chicago’s most under-resourced neighborhoods. The clubs are in Cabrini-Green, Altgeld Gardens, Englewood and Austin.
The newest By The Hand building complements a second 24,000 sq. ft. center across the street at 415 N. Laramie Ave., where after-school programs are also conducted.
“In a little over two years, By The Hand, which is a separate 501(c)(3) entity, has constructed two state-of-the-art centers on North Laramie Avenue, totaling 76,000 sq. ft. that contribute not only new educational, social and spiritual opportunities for our children, but give an economic boost to the community as well,” Ms. Travis added.
The two buildings, which have been called “the gem of Austin,” are also open for use by the community and neighborhood groups when not in use by Moving Everest or By The Hand activities.