How we got here: J.K. Lee Black Belt Academy has been teaching martial arts to students of all ages for over 40 years. The six locations in the greater Milwaukee suburbs currently serve over 2000 students. We wanted to find a way to reach children unable to experience the benefits of a traditional suburban martial arts school due to issues including poverty, location, transportation, and instability at home. In 2010, we became an approved Milwaukee Public School wellness vendor in order to bring the classes and benefits directly to the schools. We have been a successful partner of their in-school and after-school programs. In 2015, we expanded our presence to better meet the needs of Milwaukee’s youth, by establishing City Youth Martial Arts as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Prior to the pandemic, our outreach programs and home school inside the Holton Youth and Family Center were reaching 500 students on a weekly basis.
Where are we now: At the start of the stay at home order, we quietly celebrated an important milestone in the nonprofit community. It was our fifth anniversary as a nonprofit and tenth year providing programs to underserved Milwaukee neighborhoods. The schools closed and we jumped online to stay connected, providing virtual classes, challenges and support. We started our slow re-open of the center in June. We are starting with private family classes and will expand as allowed. We are providing live and virtual options to our programming partners.