Southwest Key Programs

Opening doors to opportunity

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Copy of El Centro de Familia

As “the heart of the famila,” El Centro de Familia is a hub for job creation, leadership development, and quality education. It is a place where people of all ages can engage in all East Austin Children’s Promise has to offer: leadership training, computer literacy classes, GED and ESL classes, dance, music, theater, spoken word, employment and after-school programs. El Centro, as it is often referred to, was constructed by Southwest Key in 2007, and houses East Austin College Prep's 2-6 Grade Campus, Southwest Key's Social Enterprises, and Southwest Key Programs' National Headquarters, including the East Austin Children’s Promise offices.

On-site Facilities & Services at El Centro

  • AMD Community Technology Center
  • Boys & Girls Club at Southwest Key and ACE After School Programming
    Afterschool program for youth ages 6-17, including leadership development, tech, sports and recreation, arts, academic support and more! Open 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Mon.-Fri. and certain school holidays
  • Cafe del Sol
    Open Monday-Friday, 8am - 2pm at 6002 Jain Lane, Austin
  • East Austin College Prep
    Open-enrollment, tuition-free college prep charter school serving grades 2-11.
  • GED & ESL Classes
    GED & ESL Courses at Southwest Key are held weekly throughout the year.
  • Health Promise Fitness Classes
    A range of fitness and nutrition classes are held onsite for youth and adults, including Zumba, Yoga, Nutrition, and Take Back the Trails
  • Latino Arts Preservation Program
    Community mariachi, bilingual teatro and ballet folklorico program funded and supported in part by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future.
  • Outdoor Amphitheater
    East Austin public performance venue
  • Social Enterprise Complex
    The 14,000-square-foot facility which houses Southwest Key’s social enterprise businesses, job coaching and training classrooms.
  • Southwest Key Green Energy & Construction
    A social enterprise benefiting Southwest Key's nonprofit.
  • The Blooming Florist
    A social enterprise benefiting Southwest Key's nonprofit.

The History of El Centro de Familia & Children’s Promise

Since 1987, Southwest Key Programs has provided school, shelter, and services to youth in the juvenile justice system. We work with clients where they are--in the home, at school, and on the block--to help them stay out of trouble and achieve their dreams. On their 20th anniversary, Southwest Key tested a new approach to the prevention of juvenile delinquency with the grand opening of El Centro de Familia--the East Austin Family Center--in the heart of an Austin barrio. To make a large-scale impact on the lives of those served, “we must invest in the communities where they live, learn and play,” said Dr. Juan Sanchez, founder and El Presidente of Southwest Key.

In 2003, Southwest Key received a donation of land in the Govalle/Johnston Terrace neighborhood. Through an advisory council composed of neighborhood leaders and residents, Southwest Key made every effort possible to solicit the support of community members as well as to incorporate their expressed needs, desires, and recommendations into the project development phase. Initially called the East Austin Community Development Project, Southwest Key staff and various community members canvassed the neighborhood and asked what people would like to see from the community center. The answers all followed a theme: "We want a school, a safe public place to take our families, a job center. We want something for the community."

The community advisory council mobilized support from throughout the East Austin community through block walks, community house meetings, and public hearings. They recognized the necessity of preparing their community’s young people for educational success as paramount to preventing the unemployment and poverty that plagues the East Austin community. Inspired by the work done at Harlem Children’s Zone and the US Promise Neighborhood , the official name of Southwest Key’s initiative became East Austin’s Children’s Promise.

Children’s Promise programming launched in 2007 in partnership with a handful of partners including Latino Arts Preservation Program and the Boys & Girls Club. It grew into a pipeline of support that included after school programs, adult education classes, and workforce development. Families came to celebratory events like Posada and Cinco de Mayo. By 2009, El Cento campus included Café del Sol, AMD Community Technology Center, an outdoor Amphitheatre, and EAPrep opened their doors to its inaugural class of 6th graders.

Southwest Key continues its strong history of working in partnership with a wide range of individuals and organizations from throughout the area to ensure that programs and services continuously meet the community needs. The community advisory council (CAC) is a central source of guidance for East Austin Children’s Promise. Through CAC support, staff work, and the vision of Dr. Sanchez, the initiative has grown to serve thousands of children and adults from all over Austin in partnership with over 25 organizations.