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April 10, 2019 | 0 Comments
At USES, our priority is to give children and families an opportunity to enhance their quality of life through innovative early childhood education, academic support, and skills-based programming that helps families create financial stability.
Over the last two years, we have engaged in a strategic planning process and implementation to address the organization’s longtime financial deficit, and in turn better serve our children and families. Vision125, the resulting plan, calls for a renewed mission to harness the power of our diverse community to disrupt the cycle of poverty for children and their families.
This planning process included four community meetings, conversations with over 100 stakeholders, press appearances, and social media engagement to keep the community updated. We examined the persistent and significant financial costs for maintaining USES’s aging facilities and disconnected programs. To that end, we initiated changes to our programs to serve families holistically – providing programs for children as well as their parents/caregivers.
With this new clarity on our organization’s direction, it was evident that the path forward included operating our programs and services for children and their families under one roof. USES held a community meeting in October 2018 to share the real estate direction we are taking to secure our future. This direction includes an expanded, comprehensive campus at 48 Rutland Street in the South End and sale of 566 Columbus Avenue through a request for proposals (RFP) process, which began in November 2018.
We received significant interest from the RFP, and ultimately selected a preferred buyer for our property at 566 Columbus Avenue – New Boston Ventures, a South End-based company. This selection is one more step in our public process. New Boston Ventures’ proposal includes affordable housing exceeding the city minimum, minority investment, and the preservation and/or relocation of the beloved mural on the building’s façade. To learn more, please read our press release here.
We’re very glad to have identified a potential buyer who not only meets our financial needs, but also incorporates the legacy and history of the 566 Columbus Avenue location within the community. With this step, we’re moving even closer to our vision for USES to remain a vibrant resource and partner for families and the South End community. USES is at an exciting, vital stage in this process, and will continue to keep the community updated as we move forward.
Through the sale of 566 Columbus Avenue, we are securing USES’s future for families living in Boston for the next 100 years. The proceeds will enable USES to build a new Harriet Tubman House at our Rutland Street location and create a modern and family-friendly space for the delivery of services and community gatherings. This improved facility will be a wonderful home to the 21st century legacy of Harriet Tubman. Rutland Street will be the fourth location for the Harriet Tubman House, which first opened in 1904 at 37 Holyoke Street. Through this process we’ve learned that Rutland Street has been home to numerous social services dating back to the 1850s and is currently nestled close to many housing developments including Villa Victoria, Ruth Barkley, Historic South End Apartments, Lenox, and Camden.
For more information about USES’ strategic planning and real estate process, please visit www.uses.org/vision125.
Maicharia Z. Weir Lytle
USES President & CEO