Less than two years after constructing a $6 million, 24,000 sq. ft. two-story building at 416 N. Laramie Avenue, the By The Hand Club, the venerable after-school program founded by Donnita Travis in 2001, broke ground today on an even larger facility to be built across the street. The new facility will serve as a charter school during the day and an after-school center in the evening.

“This new facility will allow us to ultimately serve 810 more children who attend Moving Everest Charter School during the day, and if parents choose, attend By The Hand after school,” Travis said. “In addition, over 200 other children from neighboring Chicago Public Schools are attending By The Hand across the street.”

The Moving Everest Charter School will ultimately serve more than 800 students in grades kindergarten through eighth. 

“In less than two years, By the Hand, a non-profit, after-school program, is building two state-of-the-art centers totaling 77,000 sq. ft. in what was once descrived as one of the darkest corners in Chicago,” said Travis in a statement. 

On hand to break ground on the new facility were newly elected Gov. Bruce Rauner, U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis, Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), newly appointed State Board of Education chairman James Meeks and a plethora of local clergymen–including pastors Ira Acree and Marshal Hatch. 

According to a statement released by the nonprofit organization, the new 53,000 sq. ft. building will feature 18 classrooms, three computer labs, a multipurpose gym and cafeteria, an art room, six breakout rooms, administrative offices and a parking lot. 

By The Hand serves 1,000 children 1st to 12th grade students four of Chicago’s most underserved communities, including Altgeld-Gardens, Englewood, Cabrini-Green and Austin. 

Read more about this project, including insight on the minority contracting process associated with the building’s construction, in this week’s print edition of the Austin Weekly News.