Last week, the New York City Housing Authority celebrated the opening of a brand new school building and community center at the Nicholas Houses, one of its developments. The building is five floors, will host the K-12 Promise Academy I Charter School, and provides a community center offering a huge variety of programs for both children and adults. Want to take Zumba? Go for it! How about finishing your GED? No problem. Oh, and it’s completley free.

The school already serves 900 children, and will grow to serve 1,300 children. As New York City faces serious over-enrollment problems, the new school will be a more-than-welcome addition to the Nicholas Houses and NYC.

“Schools represent the promise we make to our children—a promise that their futures will be stronger, healthier, and more secure,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “The new Promise Academy One—the result of a partnership between the Harlem Children’s Zone, the New York City Housing Authoroty , and the families at St. Nicholas Houses—will be an anchor for the revitalization of this community.”

Harlem Children's Zone

John Rhea, NYCHA Chairman, heads into Harlem Children’s Zone.
Image: NYCHA Flickr

John Rhea, NYCHA Chairman added, “The new Harlem Children’s Zone school at the St. Nicholas Houses is a notable example of how we can pursue creative partnerships that provide educational and employment opportunities that will enrich our residents and the entire community.” He also cited the particular relevance of the center’s opening as it relates to the Housing Authority’s Plan NYCHA strategy to preserve public housing.

The concept of a mixed use building is a novel one when it comes to schools, but it shows major potential. Children can go to school in a building that is the same or very close to the building they live in. They also have access to a community center through that school. The closeness should help cultivate a strong sense of community, helping residents and students alike thrive in a healthy environment.

The partnerships utilized in the building’s construction are both public and private, also a clever venture in a time when government funding for organizations like NYCHA is being cut back. This way, businesses can practice good CSR, get involved in the community, and help make public projects happen.

To learn more about NYCHA and Chairman John Rhea, check out our full profile here.

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