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About Us

About Us

Huntsville Learning Center is a faith-based 501(c)(3) after-school program that helps students from impoverished and underserved communities. We take a holistic approach to supporting our students by focusing on the development of mind, body, and spirit. In the 3 hours we have our students, we give them a healthy snack, provide enrichment activities, and help with their academic needs. We believe that every child can succeed regardless of their socioeconomic background, and we are dedicated to helping them achieve their full potential.

Growing our students into Christ-like, lifelong learners and responsible citizens

Our Mission

We strive to provide a safe and nurturing environment where children can learn, grow, and thrive. We believe that every individual is one of God's creations and deserves the opportunity to reach their full potential. Huntsville Learning Center is committed to helping them do just that!

Young girl stands by her chalkboard mural with a positive energy shirt on.
Our Mission
Mackenzie Grace gets a big hug from one of our 3rd grade boys.

Our Vision

We envision a future where all children, including those from marginalized communities, are inspired to become confident, compassionate, and successful individuals who positively impact our world.

Our History

Our History

Started With Art

The Huntsville Inner City Learning Center (HICLC), known today as the Huntsville Learning Center, has a rich history deeply intertwined with the life and vision of its founder, Art Leslie.

 

Born on August 7, 1949, in Huntsville, Alabama, Art grew up in the Binford Court housing project. Despite humble beginnings, Art's determination and academic prowess saw him graduate in the top 10% of his high school class after his family relocated to Flint, Michigan, in the mid-1950s.

Art's educational journey continued at the University of Michigan, where he not only pursued his studies but also showcased his athletic talent as a running back on the football team, donning the #21 jersey. Later, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business at Michigan Christian College.

After college, Art's path led him to New York City, where he worked with inner-city youth and families as part of a ministry. This experience left a profound impact on him, laying the foundation for his future endeavors. Following his time in New York, Art embarked on a successful career in retail sales, holding managerial positions at Sears, Circuit City, and Verizon across the United States.

However, Art's calling to serve his community, particularly disadvantaged children, never waned. Returning to his hometown of Huntsville, he became involved with the Inner City Church of Christ Program. In 2005, Art founded the Huntsville Inner City Learning Center (HICLC), initially operating from the church building.

God-Led Growth

Over the years, HICLC expanded its reach and impact. In 2008, it transitioned into an after-school program at Stone Middle School. Despite the closure of Stone Middle School, HICLC persevered, relocating to Westlawn Middle School before ultimately occupying an entire wing at Butler High School.

In 2012, under Art's leadership, HICLC found its permanent home adjacent to the Butler Terrace housing development. Here, Art's vision flourished as he implemented innovative after-school tutoring programs and summer camps designed to instill faith and academic excellence in the children served by the center.

Art Leslie, affectionately known as "Mr. Art," was not just a founder and executive director but a father figure, mentor, and friend to many. His tireless dedication to HICLC's mission of nurturing children's spiritual and academic growth left an indelible mark on the community. His leadership fostered a culture of love, inclusivity, and faith, inspiring countless individuals to live purposefully and serve others.

Tragically, Art Leslie passed away on November 2, 2019, at the age of 70. However, his legacy lives on through the Huntsville Learning Center, which continues to thrive as a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations to come. Art's unwavering faith, selflessness, and commitment to serving God's purpose serve as a guiding light for all who walk through the doors of the center.

Forward In Faith

The Learning Center's mission continues to flourish, guided by the unwavering vision of its founder, Art Leslie. This vision has reached new heights with Bethany Baptist Church’s generous donation of a 22,000-square-foot church on four acres of land. In November 2021, the church’s board unanimously voted to donate the building in full to the Learning Center. This remarkable gift provided the foundation for the center's expansion, enabling it to fulfill Art's dream on an even grander scale.

 

To transform this space into a vibrant hub of learning and community engagement, a $2 million capital campaign was launched to cover the necessary renovations. The funds were raised in just over a year through the collective efforts of dedicated supporters and donors, demonstrating the profound impact of Art's legacy and the widespread support for the Learning Center's mission.

 

In August of 2023, the Huntsville Learning Center proudly opened its doors at 3207 Kavanaugh Dr NW in Huntsville, Alabama. This updated facility represents a significant milestone, allowing the program to extend its services beyond K-8th grade to now include high school students. The expansion began with the introduction of 9th-grade classes in 2023, with plans to add another grade level each subsequent year. By the fall of 2026, the Learning Center aims to establish a comprehensive high school program, ensuring that students from K-12 can continue to receive the transformative education and support that has become synonymous with the center's mission.

 

As the Learning Center embarks on this new chapter, it remains steadfast in its commitment to nurturing every student's academic, spiritual, and personal growth. With Art Leslie's guiding spirit at its core, the center continues to serve as a beacon of hope and opportunity for the Huntsville community, empowering generations of students to realize their full potential and become positive forces for change in the world.