Nine years ago when Fort Worth adopted a 10-year plan to revitalize East Lancaster Avenue many City officials promised to start finding pathways to get individuals out of what Eastside residents call “the shelter district”. In response, the City of Fort Worth began introducing organizations that were dedicated to delivering the vision of revitalizing the East Lancaster Avenue area, focusing on what vital aspects were lacking to ensure the progression of the area.
Richard Marquez, president and CEO of Texans Can Academies, saw an opportunity to help revitalize the historic Fort Worth neighborhood when a building located at 1316 E. Lancaster Avenue was on the market for sale.
Previously occupied by Rhythm Band, an elementary music classroom product vendor, and Feed By Grace, a nonprofit organization that ministers to the homeless, the 37,734-square-foot building became the perfect vision for what is now Fort Worth Can Academy, Lancaster and the Louella and Nicholas Martin Wee Can Academy. Sitting two stories high on 1.306 acres, the former warehouse is now where many students find themselves attending high school in Tarrant County. The building has been completely renovated offering state-of-the-art classrooms and an on-site program for children ages six weeks to elementary age.
Fort Worth Can Academy, Lancaster and the Louella and Nicholas Martin Wee Can Academy, a branch of Texans Can Academies public high school system, help address barriers to education for high school students, such as early parenthood and needing a smaller student-to-teacher ratio for more individualized instruction. Where Texans Can Academies fills a gap in educational opportunities for their students, Wee Can Academies go a step further and assist not only the students but their children as well. At the Louella and Nicholas Martin Wee Can Academy, current students of Fort Worth Can Academy, Lancaster can enroll their children in the early childhood development program while they are attending high school classes. The high school is able to enroll 500 students and the on-site Wee Can Academy has capacity for 79 children.
“We knew this building was in the right area to serve our kids,” Marquez said. “Along with the City of Fort Worth, we recognized that many children in this area needed an opportunity for career development and college entrance applications along with an education.”
Dedicated to the economic improvement of the neighborhood, Fort Worth Can Academy, Lancaster joined the Salvation Army, the Presbyterian Night Shelter and The Union Gospel to expand its reach in helping the young residents of Fort Worth.
Along with Fort Worth Can Academy, Lancaster, many businesses, civic leaders, government entities and citizens are working towards the goal of revitalizing and enhancing the business and functional living environment on East Lancaster Avenue, which also stretches seven miles from downtown to Handley Drive at East Loop 820.
For more information, please visit www.texanscan.org.