Leaven Kids Takes the Next Step in National Expansion with San Antonio Learning Center
May 16, 2023
Leaven Kids, a non-profit 501(c)3 committed to early childhood education, opened its first San Antonio learning center today, May 16, 2022, marking a significant step forward in its plans toward national expansion.
This newly launched site will provide educational resources and free after-school tutoring to young students living in the Riverside and Mission San Jose communities of South San Antonio.
With 20 learning centers already operating in California, this new location marks Leaven Kids’ first facility outside of its home state, building on its demonstrated success when delivering evidence-based academic programming to young students struggling to succeed in school.
The grand opening of Leaven Kids’ newest learning center was completed in close partnership with the City of San Antonio and Opportunity Home San Antonio, both of which provided expert counsel and support throughout the planning and execution phase of this multi-year project.
“We count ourselves incredibly fortunate to have such supportive partners in the City of San Antonio and Opportunity Home as we look to bring desperately needed educational resources to San Antonio’s youth,” said Mark Lillis, Chief Executive Officer for Leaven Kids. “Their unyielding commitment to improving their community and long-held passion for early childhood education closely aligns with our own mission here at Leaven Kids, making it a perfect partnership as we look to bring transformative academic programs to local students in need.”
“The partnership between Opportunity Home, Leaven Kids, and the city in establishing this learning center is an important step in providing critical access to needed educational resources and tutoring in these communities on the Southside,” said Opportunity Home San Antonio President and CEO Ed Hinojosa, Jr. “We are proud to support Leaven Kids in bringing the center to fruition in San Antonio and the vital service it will provide families.”
The event featured a ribbon-cutting, a tour of the facility, keynote remarks from senior leaders, and a post-event fundraising dinner. More than 70 community members, civic leaders, and media were in attendance, including City of San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and representatives from Joint Base San Antonio and The University of Texas at San Antonio.
In the months leading up to the grand opening, Opportunity Home led an extensive renovation effort, transforming the space into a fully-equipped, multi-purpose classroom where local children can access the tools and mentorship they need to succeed. During this renovation period, students were invited to receive free after-school tutoring and mentorship at Leaven Kids’ temporary outdoor teaching space, located adjacent to its learning center.
The newly renovated facility features advanced STEAM resources such as 3D printing, smart boards, computers, and soon-to-be robotics equipment, which will help create an engaging and character-formative educational experience for Leaven Kids students.
“Leaven Kids is not just focused on improving academic performance amongst our students; we want to instill in them a lifelong passion for learning,” said Gen. Maryanne Miller (Ret.), Leaven Kids Board of Directors Vice President and retired 4-star U.S. Air Force General. “By investing in advanced educational tools and creating an environment that thrives on engagement and curiosity, we’re building the foundation for a transformative academic experience – one that will more fully prepare our students to succeed, both in the classroom and in life.”
This multi-year project was spearheaded by Chief Joe Allio, Leaven Kids Board of Directors President and retired Police Chief for the City of Fairfield, and Gen. Miller. The two spent months developing key relationships with local civic leaders to ensure this planned expansion was completed thoughtfully and in a way that aligned with the needs of the community. In parallel to these efforts, the Leaven Kids leadership team also established strong working relationships with local faith-based communities and churches, and created a strategic advisory committee within the greater-San Antonio region. These partnerships would prove invaluable when realizing Leaven Kids’ vision of establishing their first Texas-based learning center and delivering critically needed academic programming to local students in-need.
“Leaven Kids is always looking for new opportunities where our team can increase our community impact and maximize the number of students we reach,” Chief Allio added. “We’re excited to see the culmination of nearly two years of planning and coordination come together to deliver real impacts amongst local students. We look forward to the journey ahead as we continue to work hand-in-hand with our San Antonio partners to increase the accessibility and quality of local educational resources within our community.”
Community members interested in learning more about the Leaven Kids mission are encouraged to visit leavenkids.org.