Third Ward’s Hidden Jewel: EastSide University Village Community Learning Center

ABOVE: EastSide University Village Community Learning Center

A hidden jewel located in the heart of Houston’s Third Ward that is making a phenomenal difference, doesn’t want to be a hidden jewel to others in the Greater Houston area any longer.

That hidden jewel is EastSide University.

Established in 1998 as a community-based response to “real life” issues facing 21st century urban living and inner-city neighborhoods, the EastSide University Village Community Learning Center (EastSide University) has been helping countless individuals in the Greater Houston area and has served as a gathering place for knowledge for all people of all ages.

EastSide University’s governing agency, the South East Houston Community Development Corporation (SEHCDC), was founded by Dr. Manson B. Johnson, II, Shepherd-Teacher of Holman Street Baptist Church, in 1995 when Dr. Johnson felt the need to address the community needs surrounding providing educational assistance, re-entry programming and job skills development through information and computer technology resources and is designed to supplement existing community resources, which is what led to the birth of EastSide University.

EastSide University is the adult education choice for those seeking to upgrade their literacy skills, enhance their preparedness for economic and lifelong learning opportunities and augment their quality of life. EastSide University’s philosophy is to be the catalyst that helps foster community empowerment and community pride, and its purpose is to provide its learners with opportunities to build skills needed to overcome generational poverty.

EastSide University provides high school equivalency preparation, technology application and digital literacy, second language fluency, career and college preparation, and successful living courses without charging tuition through the generosity of its community partners and donors. EastSide University serves over 100 low-to-moderate income adults and their families each year.

EastSide University serves over 200 unduplicated adults and their families each year, providing a second-chance educational alternative to those who were previously “living on the edge” but desire a new found purpose and the marketable skill set required to succeed as productive citizens. EastSide University also utilizes a “literacy pipeline” that helps learners from diverse backgrounds and experiences transition from GED and workforce readiness skills acquisition to vocational training, post-secondary education, and employment; bridges the digital divide by providing tuition-supported technical and vocational skills classes and access to information and resources needed to positively impact the cycle of generational poverty; offers computer skills, English for non-native speakers, GED preparation, Spanish, basic literacy (reading, writing, and math), citizenship exam preparation, parenting and nutrition, college and career preparation, and financial education classes through the generous support of community partners; provides free computer and internet access to the community as a WeCAN Public Technology Center; provides accredited, quality instruction and learning based on equity, high expectations, learning support services, student engagement, progress monitoring and feedback, learning application, management, and technology integration; functions as one of only fourteen “special purpose schools” in Houston, Texas, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS/AdvancEd); and consists of a diverse group of students from all over the globe with backgrounds ranging from high school dropouts, to under/un-employed, ex-offenders, single parents, military veterans, employed seeking promotion, immigrants, and retired seniors.

On Thursday, January 18, 2018, the Holman Street Church Family and the community will honor and pay tribute to Dr. Manson B. Johnson, II, for his extraordinary commitment, sacrifice and service to the Greater Houston community at his “40th Anniversary Gala,” which will be held at the Ballroom at Bayou Place located downtown at 560 Texas Ave. at 7:00 pm preceded by a Red Carpet VIP Reception. A portion of the gala proceeds will benefit the Southeast Houston Community Development Corporation, Inc., the governing body for EastSide University. This celebratory event promises to be a festive evening.

The black tie gala will be hosted by former Fox 26 Anchor Melinda Spaulding and Rev. Murray G. Martin, Pastor of Mother of Zion Church in Bay City, TX. Entertainment will be provided by multi-talented jazz saxophonist Theresa Grayson and highly appraised opera singer Michelle Johnson. Guest speakers will include: David Dewhurst, Former Lt. Governor of the State of Texas; Dwight Boykins, Houston City Councilmember-District D; Jackie Aguilera, Former Dean of Students, EastSide University; Janis Burke, Chief Executive Officer, Harris County Sports Authority; Reverend Lyndon Christian Johnson, Retired Lieutenant Colonel U.S. Army/Pentagon; and Karen Carter Richards, CEO/Publisher, Houston Forward Times.

The public is cordially invited to attend this community wide tribute to Dr. Johnson. Ticket information and sponsorship opportunities can be obtained online at

To learn more about EastSide University and for class schedule and registration information, go to or call the school for more information at 713-747-9255.