Bringing a dilapidated park back to life and training job seekers to earn a livable wage are just two examples of the work done by the Langston University Center for Community Engagement.
“I just love economic and community development,” said Linda Tillman, director of the center based at Langston's Oklahoma City campus. “It's revitalization.”
Tillman came to the job in 2005 and secured three grants totaling $2,187,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund programs in Langston and Oklahoma City. She leveraged that money to bring in another $5.2 million in cash and in-kind donations.
But the HUD grants are no longer available, “so I have to find other funding,” Tillman said.
She has acquired some small grants, and community partners — like the Langston Economic Development Authority — have stepped up to see that the revitalization continues.
The ongoing fundraising and community outreach go hand-in-hand.
“I build relationships with the community and community partners,” said Arthur Younger III, one of two project management coordinators at the Center for Community Engagement.
That could mean visiting the “young ladies” at Temple Gardens Senior Apartments, 1515 NE 48, where one of the center's five community gardens grows.
Or it could mean teaching interviewing techniques, resume writing and professional etiquette to those seeking work. Younger has seen 70 people placed in jobs so far.
He works to meet the needs of residents in the northeast Oklahoma City area surrounding the Langston-OKC campus, while Roosevelt Haney Jr., the center's other project management coordinator, focuses on the Langston campus and the community of Langston.