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Stillman College, YWCA forge innovative plan to create multi-use facility for West End Tuscaloosa

Two Black women sign a contract
Proposed facility would replace King, Williams dorms on Stillman’s campus

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Stillman College and YWCA USA have partnered to pursue development of a facility to provide childcare, health, and recreational services to one of Tuscaloosa’s critically underserved areas.

Representatives from both Stillman and the YWCA signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday on Stillman’s campus and will soon begin raising funds and support for the center, which will serve Stillman students and employees, as well as residents in Tuscaloosa’s West End.

Stillman College President Dr. Cynthia Warrick said there is a scarcity of accessible parks and activities for both children and seniors in the West End. The planned facility will provide education, fitness and health activities to a multi-generational West End population.

“We need this space for both the campus and our community,” said Dr. Cynthia Warrick, president of Stillman College. “And the YWCA, which provides housing, education and childcare services, is a perfect partner.”

A group of women walk across a college campus.
Stillman President Dr. Cynthia Warrick (right) and Elisha Rhodes, interim CEO of YWCA USA, walk across Stillman’s campus.

The plan is for the center to replace both King Hall and Williams Hall, a pair of dormitories no longer in use and are planned for asbestos abatement and later demolition. The Stillman Foundation recently received a Brownfields Assessment Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a cleanup plan for the structures. The Stillman Foundation will soon pursue an additional grant to perform the cleanup itself.

The YWCA is excited to partner with Stillman College as it works to create innovative approaches that forge new ways to bring about equity and access to resources in underserved communities across the country, said Elisha Rhodes, interim CEO and COO of YWCA USA.

“YWCA works to fight for justice, advance economic opportunity, and enable greater access to education and health care to make the communities we serve more equitable,” Rhodes said. “This partnership with Stillman College is essential to that work and will help us continue to deliver programming, services, and other resources that support our mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”

Officials plan to name the facility, the “Vivian Malone Jones YWCA at Stillman College.” While Malone Jones is the first African-American to graduate from the University of Alabama, her husband, Dr. Mack Arthur Jones, was a Stillman student who served as her personal driver during her time at UA. Malone Jones’ family credits the support from Stillman and Tuscaloosa’s West End for helping her graduate from UA, Warrick said.

The development of the Vivian Malone Jones YWCA at Stillman College will also enhance community-based programs that currently operate on Stillman’s campus, including Arts & Autism, which holds classes and activities at Stillman; and the Girl Scouts, which is headquartered at the Hay Center. Additionally, The House Tuscaloosa, a literacy initiative for children on the West End, is located in the historic president’s house on Stillman’s campus.

Warrick said Stillman students will benefit greatly from the numerous layers of engagement, which will provide opportunities to manage recreational programs, tutor and engage in STEM education activities, and connect with seniors, which ties into Stillman’s Quality Enhancement Plan to prepare students for a multi-generational workforce.

“Stillman is so central to this community – an anchor for over 100 years,” Warrick said. “We should be able to draw and enhance the services for our students, youth and seniors. We’re excited to begin this mission.”

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