April 13, 2024

Tooley Community Development Group

5 min read

Takes East Mims by Storm…

By: Sonya Mallard

 Established in June 2020, Tooley Community Development Group (TCDG) is an outgrowth of (the late) Robert H. and Earlean R. Tooley who had visions for the enhancement of their beloved East Mims community. Earlean Tooley an educator for 30 years teaching Biology at Astronaut High School held a master’s degree in Micro-Biology from Nashville HBCU, Fisk University. Robert H. Tooley, a graduate of  Florida A&M University, was employed by NASA at Kennedy Space Center where he was one of the first black NASA engineers and held supervisory responsibility for one of the Shuttle-era launch Control Rooms.

Tooley Community Development Group (TCDG) is the vehicle established, by the children of the Tooleys, with the express purpose of improving the East Mims Community as envisioned by Robert H. and Earlean R. Tooley. TCDG has established a strong governing structure to oversee these efforts. Members of the governing Board include individuals with proven experience in administration, finance, and project management.

TCDG’s first mission was to assemble data on the community through resident input, census data, county consolidated plans, school board information, and other community partners’ firsthand knowledge. After arming ourselves with that knowledge we developed a plan based on surveys conducted by our own efforts, one-on-one community conversations, and past data published by the county.  We articulate this plan in The Four Pillars, our four-pronged strategy tailored to East Mims’s concerns. The Four Pillars consist of Affordable Housing, Educational Enrichment, Economic Development, and History, Arts, and Culture, four areas that were highlighted in the East Mims Community Surveys conducted by Brevard County in 2004 and 2019.

In 2021, after being determined a 501c3 organization by the IRS, TCDG began seeking the funding to develop affordable housing on four parcels of East Mims land owned free and clear by the company.  After acquiring a fifth property on the corner of Harry T. Moore Avenue and Myrtle Avenue, TCDG was accepted into the Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s Predevelopment Loan Program. Shortly after,  TCDG began to work with the Florida Housing Coalition on a development plan for Tooley Oaks of East Mims – Phase I, a $1.1M housing development project and was issued a letter of interest from the Florida Community Loan Fund.

At the close of 2021 uncertainty fueled by soaring materials costs and supply chain issues dogged the construction industry. At this time, TCDG took a step back to reassess timing and strategy. During the brief hiatus board members were introduced to State Representative Rene “Coach P” Plasencia who’s pressing concern at the time was graduation rates in East Mims. After talking with Coach P, our board made the decision to shift our Education pillar to the forefront while waiting for the housing market to calm. TCDG developed and delivered a plan to Coach P which was submitted as a state appropriation request to establish the East Mims Innovation Center. Coach P’s office socialized the request to Senators Tom Wright and Debbie Mayfield both of whom signed on and pushed the bill forward.

During this time board members met with the Housing Authority of Brevard County and discussed plans for the community. From this discussion, a partnership was formed which resulted in TCDG being provided a newly remodeled 3,500 sq. ft. facility in the heart of East Mims, valued at over $35,000 for the year, in which to operate educational programs. Shortly after TCDG applied for and was awarded Brevard County Community Development Block Grant Public Services Funding totaling $66,999 to begin the East Mims Learning Center and its first program, the Summer STEM Academy.

As the effort picked up steam an additional $15,000 was provided by Truist Bank, the School Board summer food program signed on to provide lunches through the month of June, Coca-Cola Florida and Jacobs Technology also became partners in the effort. Lockheed Martin, CareerSource Brevard, Eastern Florida State College, NASA and others have also committed to help make the summer program a success.

Short Term – In a recent conversation with Senator Wright, when he attended the grand opening block party for the learning center, TCDG Board members laid out the plan to establish the project at the Cuyler School and use it as a pipeline from the East Mims community into the rapidly growing Brevard County space industry offering such skills as welding, soldering, and composites supported with employability and soft skills training.

Once all the necessary pieces are in place including a lease for the Cuyler property, TCDG’s plan is to establish a formal plan socialize it with community residents and hear suggestions, concerns, feedback and input from stakeholders.

Long Term – It is our belief that the Long-Term success of our projects will uplift the Mims community and be a tremendous Return-on-Investment for Brevard County. Success will be a community endeavor.  The ‘Voice-of-the-Community will be sought on a regular basis and appropriately used. We will continuously review our ‘Progress-to-Goals’ in addressing the needs of East Mims and to ensure that we remain on track in meeting the community needs.

If you should have any questions, please call our office at (321) 225-4251.

Summer STEM Academy
…is go for launch!
The plan for the summer is to engage up to 25 5th-9th graders from the underserved areas of
East Mims and/or DeLeon (Titusville) area in an “out of this world” summer including intensive
remedial tutoring and introduction to STEM areas of Robotics, Solar Powered Cars and Model
The academy will begin on May 31 and culminate with a field trip to KSC’s Exploration Station
on July 22nd. See details below.
For opportunities to volunteer or donate please contact us at stemacademy@tooleycdg.org or
321-210-2095. Lets have an “out of this world” summer!

MAY 31, 2022 – JULY 22, 2022

East Mims Learning Center’s 8-week Summer STEM Academy is designed to turn your child into a budding STEM Scholar. In addition to 2 weeks of robotics/coding, 2 weeks of solar-powered cars, and 2 weeks of model rockets, our state-certified instructor will also provide intensive tutoring in reading and math.

With hands-on, face-to-face application with real NASA engineers and team competitions interspersed throughout the summer, this upbeat, dynamic program is sure to keep your 5th – 9th grader engaged in every learning experience. See the tentative Summer STEM Academy Plan below (subject to adjustments).

Scholarships available for students from East Mims and some Titusville locations.

Seats are limited to 25.

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