Reinvestment Fund financing is helping transform the historic McDonogh 19 Elementary School into the multi-use Tate, Etienne & Prevost Center in New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward.
Developed by the Alembic Community Development and the Leona Tate Foundation for Change (LTFC), the new facility will pursue a mission to advance equitable economic development and combat structural racism. The new Tate, Etienne & Prevost (TEP) Center will house a New Orleans civil rights museum and educational space operated by LTFC, a training space operated by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISB), an ongoing LTFC partner that organizes community members and conducts anti-racism trainings; and 25 units of senior housing affordable to households earning less than 60% Area Median Income, including 12 units for 30% AMI households.
The McDonogh 19 School was one of the initial two schools integrated in New Orleans. In 1960, Leona Tate, Gail Etienne, and Tessie Prevost were escorted by Federal Marshals through a crowd of shouting protesters to attend McDonogh 19, becoming the first African Americans to attend formerly white-only schools in Louisiana. The three young girls attended class alone–and under the protection of United States Marshals–in an otherwise empty building for a year and a half while their white peers and neighbors went to parochial and private schools elsewhere.
Despite its seminal history and listing into the National Register of Historic Places in 2016, the building has remained vacant and blighted for 15 years following the school’s closure in 2004 and the subsequent devastation of the Lower 9th Ward during Hurricane Katrina.
In this new space, LTFC and PISB will offer early childhood through graduate-level education that is grounded in racial equity principles, teach the past and present of civil rights in New Orleans, and trains diverse populations in anti-racism skills. The project is also expected to create job opportunities for low-moderate income residents of the Lower 9th Ward. The development also prioritizes partnerships and contracts with Black-led and -controlled nonprofits and small businesses.
Reinvestment Fund’s financing is part of a $15.4 million New Markets Tax Credit transaction. Enhanced Community Development, Central States Development Partners and US Bank are providing NMTC allocations. US Bank is the NMTC investor and Enhanced is the historic tax credit investor. This is the first NMTC transaction to take place in the Lower 9th Ward since Hurricane Katrina
Reinvestment Fund’s loan is providing the leverage source, which includes a series of bridge loans, including a bridge to historic tax credits for the project. This is Reinvestment Fund’s second project with Alembic, a mission-driven, for-profit developer dedicated to creating equitable partnerships with nonprofits.