Elimu Center: Tale of brink of collapse as a business to high-impact non-profit

From the brink of collapse due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Elimu Center is now set to relaunch as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization at a colorful gala set to be held on 28th October 2023 and will now be known as a Elimu Community Center.

The launch will also serve as a a fund-raising event to kick-start the Center’s operations.

“We plead with you to help us realize this goal. We hope to secure a spacious building where events and programs will be affordable and accessible,” says Julie Weche, the Founder, in her message to well wishers ahead of the launch.

“ It is our hope that you will help us with your resources and help us obtain grants to support these events and programs.”

The organization was founded in 2013 as a for-profit business, trading as Elimu Tutoring and Training Center but it was dealt a major blow in 2020 when Covid-19 struck.

“Like many businesses Elimu services were affected by Covid-19 shutdowns. Elimu did not qualify for the various assistance programs and no other source of revenue was available,” says its Founder Julie Weche.

“Elimu incurred a rent debt of $34,000 and was facing eviction.”

It took the intervention of community members who mobilized themselves under “Okoa Elimu” (save Elimu) clarion call to help clear the debt and keep their operations at their Pulaski Highway offices.

“Elimu will forever be indebted to this community and that’s why we thought the best way to give back to this community for their generosity and love is to restructure from a business model into a non-profit to enable us to serve the community in more areas, while remaining sustainable,” she explains.

The Community Center, which was granted full registration as a non-profit at the beginning of 2023, will champion for the welfare of African immigrants focusing on after-school tutoring and homework help, youth mentorship, cultural and social events as well as food bank operations and distribution. They will also run summer camps, dance/fitness programs and business expos.

“Our intention is a deliberate one of inspiring African immigrants, especially the youth, to celebrate their unique and diverse cultural heritage through festivals and other events that showcase cultural folklore, attire, dance, poetry, music, games, food and artifacts.”

Elimu, situated at 9600 Pulaski Park Drive in Baltimore, Maryland, is well known for services like students’ transport, tutoring (math, reading, GED, SAT, and TOEFL, magnet program), college applications and resume writing. In collaboration with Emmanuel Chapel and Children’s Bible Ministries, Elimu Center ran Mind Education programs and Children’s Bible Studies.

“Each summer, we always have this exciting Summer Camp that includes educational, physical and social activities for children and youth. Many children have learned how to swim and skate during summer camp.

“The academic program serves as a bridge for students during the summer months as they transition to the next grade. Teenagers who volunteer at the Summer camp are provided opportunities to mentor children, while attaining their Student Learning hours required for high school graduation.”

Elimu Center also operated a driving school, which became a vital part of Maryland’s Graduated Licensing System for new drivers.

“Many new immigrants and refugees obtained driver’s education in a caring environment that met their varied language and cultural needs.”

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