Q House, under construction on Dixwell Ave.
Oversee Q House programming. Hire and manage staff. Handle a portion of fundraising for the site. And establish relationships with community partners.
Those are some of the responsibilities detailed in a city proposal to enter into a three-year, $300,000-in-total contract with LEAP that would have that local youth tutoring and recreation nonprofit run the soon-to-open, reborn Dixwell community center.
City Youth and Recreation Department Director Gwendolyn Busch Williams submitted a proposed resolution to that effect to the Board of Alders on March 30.
The proposed resolution, which would authorize the city to enter into a multiyear contract for Leadership, Education and Athletics in Partnership Inc. (LEAP) to be the management group for the Dixwell Community “Q” House, is included as a communication in the agenda package for Monday night’s regular bimonthly full Board of Alders meeting.
The item is next slated to be heard by an aldermanic committee before returning to the full board for consideration and a potential final vote.
“Having been selected by a rigorous procurement process by the City of New Haven and the Q House Advisory Board and the Q House Board of Directors, Leadership, Education and Athletics in Partnership, Inc. (LEAP) has been selected to be the management group for the Dixwell Community Center,” Williams wrote to the alders in support of the proposed resolution.
“LEAP is tasked with overseeing all program development and administration; direct the management of all staff, policy and procedures; directly supervise senior staff; a portion of fundraising for the programming; and establishing relationships with board members, community partners, collaborating organizations, and leaders in local and state government.”
If passed by the Board of Alders, the resolution would allow the city to enter into a contract with LEAP for three fiscal years, covering July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2024.
The maximum contract would amount to no more than $100,000 per year for that three-year time period, or $300,000 in total.
The aldermanic communication comes less than a week after City Budget Director Michael Gormany broke the news during a recent Finance Committee budget hearing that the city had picked LEAP to run the new Dixwell community center site for a $100,000 management fee.
LEAP Executive Director Henry Fernandez told the Independent last week that his organization plans to hire two full-time staffers and have 20 trained local high school student and college student volunteers run the site’s various spaces, which include a dance studio, a music studio, a gym, an arts studio, a kitchen, and various community meeting rooms. He also said that programming the site should cost close to $600,000 per year, meaning that LEAP will have to fundraise a significant amount on top of the proposed city annual contribution. (Click here to read more from that interview.)
Williams’s aldermanic submission also included LEAP’s Oct. 13, 2020 application to the city to run the Q House, in response to a request for proposals (RFP).
In that submission, Fernandez detailed LEAP’s 28-year history and qualifications to run the site.
He wrote about how LEAP currently serves over 1,000 young New Haveners each year; how it runs a community center out of a housing-authority owned property on Jefferson Street that includes a pool, gym, weight room, dance studio, art room, community garden, teaching kitchen, playing field, library, and teen lounge, among other programming spaces; how it employs over 200 part-time staff and 24 full-time staff; and how the nonprofit’s current annual budget is $3.1 million, which is 82 percent higher than it was five years ago.
“With the input and support of the Q House Advisory Board, LEAP plans to immediately prioritize hiring, strategic planning, and budget development for the Q House while capitalizing on our existing relationships and community presence to raise funds and generate publicity,” Fernandez wrote. “Designated Q-House positions, such as a director and building manager, will be supported by our experienced and diverse staff, led by Executive Director Henry Fernandez who has an extensive background working in management, communication and strategic thinking capacities.
“At the core of our work, LEAP deeply believes in the transformative power of community and has a commitment to empowering individuals to reach their full potential. As an organization, our decisions prioritize the best interests of the people we serve. Our leadership will establish the Q House as a place by and for the community, where all New Haven residents are welcomed to receive necessary services, explore new opportunities, celebrate culture and legacy, and envision a hopeful future.”
Click here to read the full aldermanic submission, including LEAP’s RFP response.
Tags: LEAP, Q House, Henry Fernandez