Public receives preview of Empowerment Academy

·2 min read

Jun. 25—Empowerment Academy board members were on hand for an open house Friday at the nonprofit's nearly 10,000-square-foot building currently under construction at the corner of Henning Lane and Ohio Street in Owensboro.

The Empowerment Academy will provide homes for area high school students who are in need of permanent and safe housing.

Board Chair Rhonda Davis said during the event that it is incredible to see the progress made on the building, which has been funded by private donations.

"To watch us walk onto a piece of ground in October 2021 that was knee high in weeds, to see where we are at today is fulfilling," she said. "This has been a labor of love from the beginning."

Davis said Mike Ballard of Ballard Construction, has donated his time to the project, and students are expected to move into the completed home around Christmas or the New Year.

The Empowerment Academy will feature 18 bedrooms, six bathrooms, and has currently been approved to house up to 18 high school students while they complete their studies.

"It is just a dream come true for a lot of people," Davis said. "This idea came to fruition from eight years of people working with the school systems, working with local law enforcement, trying to decide if this is a real need in this community and it certainly is."

Former state Sen. David Boswell, a member of the Empowerment Academy Board, said that the building is expected to cost about $800,000, and more funds are needed to continue to pay for its construction.

"We have a lot of money to raise and we are looking at grant programs; we are looking at everything that we can to bring money in to do this," Boswell said. "Our main objective at this juncture is to show people what we are doing. It is a whole lot easier to raise money when you have something that people can physically look at and say hey, 'there is progress being made.' "

Davis said while the original timeline was to have students moving into the academy by the start of the upcoming school-year in August, supply chain issues and worker shortages have pushed that date back until the end of the year.

"Right now the biggest part of it is we are trying to pay for it as we go," she said.

Davis said that while there have been a lot of individuals who have made generous donations to help make the Empowerment Academy a reality, the nonprofit is still seeking some larger partners and corporate sponsorships.

"I am hoping that local businesses will want to collaborate with us and make this their labor of love, too," she said.

For more information about the Empowerment Academy, visit www.empowermentacademy.us.