While things are looking up for the J.L. King Center following an abrupt loss of funding in January, the center still needs help from the community.
Friends of the J.L. King Center volunteers Paul Luckett and Alison Buehler said the community must raise $30,000 by Aug. 1 to fully fund running the center from 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. daily for the next year.
At a meeting Friday, the center announced a rebranding effort plus new adult education and employment skills courses to be offered through East Mississippi Community College at the center. At this point, $150,000 has been pledged toward the J.L. King Center for the next five years, including $30,000 in the coming year. The funds were initially pledged through Buehler’s Lighthouse Partnership, although the pledges have been transferred to the new Friends of the J.L. King Center nonprofit.
Luckett said the new funding model would ensure that the center was not as reliant on grants, which could be taken away at will.
He said the Emerson Family School, which oversaw Families First, had done a good job of keeping the doors open with numerous small grants, although the model was not sustainable long-term. Earlier this month, Emerson pulled its support for the center after 25 years.
Luckett said the plan was to eventually turn the J.L. King Center into a full-fledged comunity center. He said if 1,000 people would be able to contribute $10 a month, the center would be fully funded.
He listed “prosper, promotion, persistence and partnership” as the center’s values.
He also referred to a model of security, sustainability and strength. Each new person to come to the center would be assessed based on the model to determine their needs, and how best to serve them. The adult education and employment skills courses will still begin Aug. 1, regardless of funding, since enough money exists to support the programs initially. A new logo for the J.L. King Center was also unveiled.
EMCC President Scott Alsobrooks discussed the institution’s planned involvement with the center. He said adult education was probably more important now than at any other time in Mississippi’s history.
He said the students could get the SmartStart credential, which comes with a career readiness credential, and gives access more to job opportunities.
The center has also been supported with funds from Chicken Salad Chick and 4-County Electric Power Association. Donations to the center can be made at www.jlkingcenter.com.