SUITLAND – Just like the balloons marking the way to the building rose high into the air, the new Innovative Transforming Neighborhood Center (iTNC) in Suitland hopes to raise the prospects of Prince George’s County residents. iTNC staff and participants welcomed local dignitaries to their new center on Auth Way in Suitland for a grand […]
SUITLAND – Just like the balloons marking the way to the building rose high into the air, the new Innovative Transforming Neighborhood Center (iTNC) in Suitland hopes to raise the prospects of Prince George’s County residents.
iTNC staff and participants welcomed local dignitaries to their new center on Auth Way in Suitland for a grand opening celebration on May 26. Run by Training Grounds Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to providing professional skills to underprivileged populations, iTNC will serve Suitland and Coral Hills. The 8,800-square foot facility is located in the Suitland Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative (TNI) area designated by County Executive Rushern Baker III.
“What’s going on right here right in this center is not only going to provide people with a career, but it’s going to change the quality of life for these neighborhoods,” Baker said.
State Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-26) agreed with Baker and said the TNI program has always been about improving people’s lives.
“You cannot transform neighborhoods without transforming lives. You are about to transform a number of lives with what you’re doing here,” he said.
iTNC will provide training in fields such as clean water, clean energy technology, administrative services, drone technology and multimedia through a variety of programs, some in conjunction with other nonprofits, businesses and faith-based organizations. The facility contains multiple classrooms, a television and radio studio for Doing Good productions, a BICSI lab for cable installation instruction and a green business incubator, which will provide support, technology and financing for entrepreneurs hoping to start eco-friendly enterprises.
Warees Majeed, the master of ceremonies for the event, said the focus is not merely on getting participants employed, but setting them up for a career.
“We’re not asking anyone just to come in and get an entry level job and stay there for the next four or five years. As a matter of fact, we tell our participants if you are where we placed you a year from now, then we’re not doing our job…We want you to grow,” Majeed said.
Training Grounds focuses some of its programs specifically on those who are recently released from jail or are returning from the military. Majeed said 50 percent of the management are themselves returning citizens.
Muse said groups like Training Grounds provide second chances for residents are vital. In fact, he said even he has benefitted from a second chance after a hard childhood and he thanked Training Grounds for helping others in that situation.
“I was one of those kids who lived on the street. And yes, I got into trouble, but I’m thankful that I had a second chance to start all over again,” he said. “And here you are training people, saying ‘let’s give you a second chance. Let’s start over again.’ I welcome you. I bless you for what you’re doing.”
Training Grounds also puts an emphasis on collaboration.
“You got public, you got private, you got people. That’s all you need,” said Executive Director Tom Brown.
Baker said the county can’t do the work necessary to uplift neighborhoods like Suitland alone, and he also appreciated the collaborative spirit of Training Grounds.
“We were missing a key component: the private sector, nonprofits and businesses. We need people who have done this and done it right. And that’s what you’re doing. So we need the partnership,” he said.
The expansion into the county benefits Training Grounds as well, said board member Don Murray.
“Prince George’s County becomes important because we are now moving from the District to another jurisdiction where in many ways they have the same challenges as some of the residents of the District,” he said. “We want to make sure that they actually have the opportunity to participate in something that is ground-level and exciting.”
Although the grand opening was held on Friday, Training Grounds’ first class in Prince George’s County graduated on April 14. One of those graduates was Bruce Barbey, who was instrumental in constructing the iTNC facility.
“This is truly a blessing to find a place like this. I’ve been looking for a place to help me just help other people, because that’s what I like doing,” he said.
Baker said this center is just one of many he hopes will open throughout the county.
“This is the vision that we had for Prince George’s County. This is just the beginning,” he said.