The husband and wife who started the program work to ensure that children and families have the knowledge and resources to succeed in life.

TOLEDO, OH – Art Tatum zone is a non-profit neighborhood revitalization program created just a few years ago that is seeing great success in its programming.

Calvin and Christine Sweeney run the organization, which is located in the Junction area of ​​Toledo.

The group has seen such growth and success that there is a waiting list for children to participate in the program.

On any given weekday, you can find 120 to 150 students participating in the after-school programs offered by the Art Tatum Zone.

“Every day, our program is built around the basics – reading and math, where all of our students need stronger support. But we’re also talking about social and emotional learning,” said Executive Director Christine Sweeney.

The organization has three different locations where students go after the school day ends – the Toledo Museum of Art, the McClinton Nunn Community Building and Pinewood Avenue Tabernacle Church.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grade receive educational support in the program and participate in activities such as music, theater and art through enrichment time.

“We understand that education opens so many doors and provides so many options. We also realized that it’s more than just reading, writing and math, we wanted to instill a love of learning in all of our students,” Christine said.

But the focus is not only on children.

The Sweeneys say it’s a place for the whole family.

But to understand that, you have to know the man the organization is named after, legendary jazz pianist Art Tatum.

“He grew up in the early to mid-1900s, he loved music, but he also loved his family,” said Calvin Sweeney, president of the Art Tatum Zone.

Until a few years ago, Art Tatum’s family called Toledo home.

“We got this house from Art Tatum’s niece, Lucille Johnson. She died a few years ago at the age of 84, but she was born in the back room of this house,” Calvin said.

Now, this home aligns with the vision of the Art Tatum Zone, where children have the opportunity to succeed in their education.

“We’ve seen students go from being on the hold list to being on the honor roll and the principal’s list,” Christine said.

Sweeney says parents can also get help and resources through the program.

“We provide an opportunity for parents to re-educate or extend their education. We know that a comprehensive approach is needed,” Calvin said.

The goal, they say, is to break the generational curse that plagues many black families.

Doing so involves an approach that extends beyond education.

Another pillar of the organization is the neighborhood stabilization program.

“Part of our mission is to buy homes in our community, rehabilitate them and make them a place where someone wants to live. We’re even looking at rental homes,” Sweeney said.

Because of this, Sweeney says, property taxes and the market value of homes are starting to rise.

And a better neighborhood means more people will want to live and work there.

“Our goal is to eradicate all vertical and horizontal defeat in the community,” Calvin said. “The houses that can be saved, we want to save those houses. We want them restored and rebuilt.”

They say it’s all a cycle that works with the whole family to achieve success later in life.

“The need is so great. No organization can meet this need. We all need to work together to make sure that there are opportunities throughout the city for the children and families in our community,” said Christine.

The Sweeneys say there are summer programs for kids to help them get out of school, and they plan to add a Saturday academy because families are so interested.

If you want more information about the organization, click here.

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