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Riverside's Civil Rights Institute Receives State Funding

Wakeland Housing and Development Corporation

The Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California announced on Monday that it officially received the state funding needed to complete its downtown Riverside project. The funds were approved by Governor Gavin Newsom for the 2019-2020 budget.

With $3.5 million in state funding, construction can now begin on Mission Heritage Plaza—a mixed-use building and home to the new Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California.

Rose Mayes, vice president of the institute's board of directors says the recent unrest around systemic racism shows the community needs this institute for people of all backgrounds—a place to gather daily, advocate for civil rights and facilitate intergenerational learning about disparities in housing, health and economics.

“We’re repeating some of the same things we were supposed to have addressed a long time ago back in the early sixties and now we are right back from square one," said Mayes. "And one of the things is because we didn’t continue to strategize and work in partnership with one another to make sure the stories are being told.”  

The 92,000 square-foot building in downtown Riverside will have 72 affordable housing units above a ground level institute space. This will be the home of an education center for children’s programming, a library and archive of the civil rights movement in the region, and a meeting space for community groups. 

The idea for all this came through a partnership between Mayes and Lalit Acharya over a decade ago. Acharya, the institute’s treasurer of the board, says he and Mayes share a similar vision for the institute—wanting it to not only be a place to celebrate the region’s rich history, but a meeting place for all people facing civil rights challenges in the community.

"It will be just wonderful to have a place to bring the minds, the advocates, the people who are pushing for change and then see that through," said Acharya. "I think [as] the country evolves, we need to change and we need to make this place a better place for our kids and grandkids.”

With construction expected to begin in the fall, doors will open summer 2021.