Empowerment Zone leaders push for program to extend five more years
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The South Bend Empowerment Zone is looking to make a push to extend the program another five years.
As of right now, the zone is set to expire on July 1, 2024.
Community members were invited out to a town hall forum event on Tuesday at Navarre Middle School to hear from Empowerment Zone board members on the progress that has been made over the past 3 years since its inception, and why the program deserves to extend through 2029.
Attendees had the chance to speak publicly about their concerns about the program and offer up questions for board members.
Tuesday's event also included group meetings, discussions and note-taking between community members.
Chair of the Board for the Empowerment Zone, Sam Centellas, says that one of the first steps in getting public approval for the program is acknowledging the success the program has had so far.
"I think a big part of the change that we’ve seen over the past couple of years has been some hope for change. And so, people have seen the ability for us to create different programs and things that remove obstacles in students' lives that can help them achieve — and so that’s been a great part to say families really put their trust in us to see that this is something that can benefit their children.”
While tangible improvement is there, the board is excited about an atmospheric change that students are seeing since the program's inception.
"I think that day-to-day sometimes it can be basic things just like how you’re going to be greeted when you arrive. I think one of the big things here is putting up a dress code and trying to have that level — that mindset in our children that they can achieve and will achieve. Those are some of the things that you’ll see from ten years ago to today.” said Centellas.
The vote to extend the Empowerment Zone is expected to happen on June 21.
More information on the zone and upcoming information sessions can be found here.