Interview with Leon Dixon

Category: You Are History Project

A peek at the seniors participating in #CascadeMediaGroup’s new national documentary series called the (#youarehistoryproject) about the vital life cycles and experiences of the Senior Citizens of our community. If you would like to participate in the project. Register Now @
While pursuing his Master’s degree in Mathematics, Mr. Dixon worked as a tutor in the Mathematics program at Texas University. Upon obtaining his degree, he received a summer internship at NASA in Houston and begins work on a Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, where he also served as a teaching assistant. During his 2nd semester of school, he was hospitalized for 17 days and diagnosed with an arthritic. After several unsuccessful attempts at finding work, he accepted a position as an industrial mathematician/scientific programmer at the Bendix Corporation in 1965. In the early 70s, Mr. Dixon provided tutoring sessions to his family and friends, especially sharing concepts that had not yet been introduced at school. Initially, Mr. Dixon thought that there wasn’t much he could do with his mathematics background in the community; however, through his experience working with family and friends, he began to realize that there were people out there that needed that type of assistance. One evening a child that he had tutored was leaving his house when he thought to himself, “If another kid comes here for me to tutor, I would have to spend another two hours going over the same thing. Why spend two hours with one kid when I could be helping ten?
Additionally, he knew that there were other members in the community that could help provide these services. Mr. Dixon worked out the details and presented the idea to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and they agreed to implement it under his leadership. The mathematics program started in the spring of 1973, and classes were held in the St. James Gregory United Methodist Church, where future Mayor and now Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver Sr. was the pastor.
Since 1973 a diverse group of professionals has volunteered to provide students and adults help in the areas of academic studies and technical training, and the Learning Center has become a gathering space and thinks tank for issues that disproportionately affect African American communities.
In 1983 our first building was donated to us by Fred Curls and Freedom Incorporated. The Learning Center grew by leaps and bounds over the next 25 years. We expanded beyond reading and math and added science, technology, college coaching, and media. During those years, our enrollment reached an all-time high of 600 enrollments! Additionally, we took advantage of the vast knowledge and experience we had in technology to launch the telehub – by 2008, over 30 community centers and churches were connected to the internet through the technology hub at W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center! In those early days, the Learning Center was the launching pad for new businesses, community organizing, and educational reform initiatives. It was not unusual to see Kansas City’s movers and shakers coming in and out of the building.
In 2011 we moved into the Milton Moore Elementary School under a lease agreement with the Kansas City Missouri Public School District and got to work. Within months of move-in, the boiler went out, and we were again faced with a significant decision. Fortunately, there was an angel among us who believed in our work and made the commitment and investment to repair the boiler. We finished the year in temporary space and re-opened in the fall of 2012. Since that time, we have been in rebuilding mode. Although our goal during this difficult time was maintenance and stability, we continued to grow programs, attract new volunteers and partners, and be resolute in our vision for the future. Our focus is raising awareness of the Center to help ensure sustainability while transitioning new leadership and service models to support 21st-century learning and thinking about a more strategic way forward – to ensure impact and value to the community for the next 40 years!
The Opportunity
Our Mission is to improve the academic performance of under-served communities through educational services and state-of-the-art technology.
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