New funding allows YWCA Charleston to start construction on new Center for Racial Equity and Inclusion

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Construction is underway on YWCA Charleston’s new Center for Racial Equity and Inclusion facility.

YWCA Charleston CEO Jennifer Goddard said a $100,000 grant from BHE Foundation has allowed them to move forward with the project located at 412 Elizabeth Street.

“It’s in a building we already own on the East End,” Goddard said. “It will give us a place for people to have important conversations about racial equity and inclusion.”

Goddard said it’s work they’ve already been doing across their operating area of Boone, Clay and Kanawha counties, but they haven’t had a physical location to do that.

“Having our own space to do this will make a big difference in allowing us to offer conversations and also host celebrations,” she said.

Goddard said the exterior of the building is structurally sound and that inside needs work.

“We’ll be doing a lot of work with the electrical system. Through other grants, we’ve been able to put on a new roof. We’ve got new heating and cooling that had to be done. Just a lot of investments in a building that hadn’t been upgraded for 25-30 years,” she said.

Once completed, the new center will hold discussions, activities and celebrations to “help bridge the gap on issues of racism.”

“It’ll be a space where we’ll be able to host facilitated conversations with large groups as well as some smaller groups,” Goddard said. “There will be a resource library for folks who are interested in learning more about our mission.”

YWCA says their mission is “eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.”

Goddard said the BHE Foundation sees the importance of their mission too.

“They are really committed to West Virginia and they are really committed to making our state a place that is inclusive and accepting for everyone,” she said.

“The services that will be provided and conversations that will be fostered at this facility will strengthen the communities we’re so proud to be a part of,” BHE Renewables President and CEO Alicia Knapp said in a Tuesday news release.

The new center is expected to open sometime this year.

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