The National Civic League recently announced that the City of Fort Lauderdale is the 2023 All-America City Hall of Fame Inductee!
After being named an All-America City in 2014, Fort Lauderdale is being recognized for its collaborative engagement surrounding the May 2022 establishment of the L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center in the city’s oldest African American community.
Preserving the Past
Known as “The Heart and Soul of the City”- Historic Sistrunk Boulevard is named in honor of Dr. James Franklin Sistrunk, who joined Dr. Von D. Mizell to found Provident Hospital, Broward County’s first Black hospital. The historical significance of the site was honored when the YMCA fused the previous name (L.A. Lee YMCA) with Dr. Mizell’s name. The YMCA’s new Victory Black Box Theatre is named after the original Victory Theatre, the only theater in Fort Lauderdale where Black patrons were allowed during segregation. Throughout the building, curated murals, artwork, and photographs pay respect to the location’s history, Fort Lauderdale’s Black community, and pioneers.
A Center for the Future
The L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center aims to improve the area by engaging a wide range of community members including children, teens and senior citizens in traditional YMCA programming and community offerings such as:
- Broward College
- meeting space
- Victory Black Box Theatre
- wellness center
- co-working space
- swimming pool
It was critical that the community center serve a diverse group, and that the staff be representative of the Historic Sistrunk community. The staff at the community center is 73% women, 46% Black or African American, and 37% Hispanic or Latino.
Partnership is Key
The L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center was created through a collaboration with the YMCA, the City of Fort Lauderdale, and community partners.
- The YMCA of South Florida received $10M in funding assistance from the Fort Lauderdale Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to provide funding towards debt service for the construction and development of the state-of-the-art community center.
- Due to the CRA funding, the YMCA successfully obtained a construction loan to finance the project.
- Broward College provides GED & job readiness training at the center. They also provide job placement services for in-demand industries for residents who live within the boundaries of the CRA.
The new YMCA offers many programs and amenities that were previously unavailable within the CRA area before its opening in May 2022. Since then, the YMCA has expanded its services and programs and will continue to activate the area with community events on the building’s terrace and within the Victory Black Box Theatre. The L.A. Lee YMCA/Mizell Community Center serves the Sistrunk corridor by providing a wide array of benefits to the community, including improved health, employment opportunities, economic development, and an overall better quality of life.
About All-America City- Hall of Fame Award
The National Civic League created the All-America City – Hall of Fame Award in 2019 to celebrate the ongoing work of past All-America Cities. Fort Lauderdale is the sixth Hall of Fame Award Inductee. The award recognizes communities that have implemented a community-driven initiative that resulted in significant local impact due to community engagement. For more info about the award & past winners, visit: https://www.nationalcivicleague.org/america-city-award/hall-of-fame/
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