Urban League of Flint short of funds, may have to close building - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Urban League of Flint short of funds, may have to close building

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(01/26/12) - The Urban League of Flint is going through some tough financial times and may have to close the building where its offices are located. The board of directors wants to take the agency in a new direction.

Money at the Urban League is in such short supply that its only employee, CEO Lorna Latham, has been laid off. The building at Pierson and Cloverlawn is mostly empty.

"We currently are not operating any programs out of the building, though there are groups meeting there, said Jim Richardson, Urban League of Flint First Vice Chair of the Board of Directors.

The New McCree Theater uses the building's auditorium and is planning two concerts Feb. 3 and 4.

"We have a couple of fundraisers scheduled to pay the light and gas bills for the short term," said Charles Winfrey of the New McCree Theater.

"We're looking out in the community, looking for some assistance to be able to provide us with the dollars we need for utilities, maintenance and the management of the building," Richardson said.

And, if funding isn't found soon, the building may have to be shuttered.

"The risk we're facing is if we aren't able to generate those kinds of funds that we'll have to close the building up," Richardson said.

The Urban League of Flint has focused much of its attention through the years on young minorities. It has organized the annual Salute to Black Scholars and run a number of job fairs, helping youths write resumes and develop interviewing skills. But in the past few years, grants for such efforts have dried up.

"A lot of the programs have gone into colleges and into school systems," Richardson added.

The Urban League board of directors want to change priorities. They're thinking about making this building a community center.

"We're exploring ideas at this point. We're in the early stages of exploration," Richardson said.

One option being considered: Helping minorities start and grow their own businesses. Richardson is optimistic the Urban League has a future in Flint.

"Absolutely. There is a strong need for the Urban League of Flint in our community. More than ever," he said.

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