BOSTON, Mass. /Massachusetts Newswire/ — Governor Deval Patrick today joined Freedom House CEO Gail Snowden and MassDevelopment President and CEO Bob Culver at Freedom House in Boston’s Grove Hall neighborhood to announce a $1 million Challenge Grant for the community-based social action agency. The funds will help the organization build a new facility on its current site. The grant comes from MassDevelopment’s Community Service Loan Fund launched last year to provide low-cost loans and grants to help community services agencies throughout the state build or repair their facilities.

“Freedom House is a wonderful example of the type of civic engagement and dedication to educational excellence that sets Massachusetts apart,” said Governor Patrick. “This Challenge Grant will mean a new building and greater opportunities to unite people and provide the types of resources that translate into strong, healthy neighborhoods across our Commonwealth.”

Since 1949, Freedom House has responded to critical needs of inner-city communities. Beginning with the vision of its founders, Muriel and Otto Snowden, Freedom House has a rich history of addressing issues of poverty, educational achievement, and racial disparities in underserved neighborhoods. Freedom House has also played a trusted “bridging role” between corporations, political institutions and the community to bring systemic change. It operates in a three-story, 10,000-square-foot building at 14 Crawford Street. The structure, built between 1920 and 1940 and in need of major structural upgrades, no longer meets the organization’s programmatic needs. The group plans to demolish it and build a new facility on the same site. Preliminary estimates for the new building stand at $2 million and Freedom House will raise $1 million to match MassDevelopment’s grant.

“For more than sixty years, Freedom House has worked to strengthen communities and empower residents in Boston’s neighborhoods, and this grant will ensure the organization’s ability to continue its good work for decades to come,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Robert L. Culver. “The new building will help Freedom House better achieve its goal of promoting education and civic engagement.”

“I thank the Patrick-Murray Administration and MassDevelopment for their guidance and support. MassDevelopment was very responsive to our request and its staff worked closely with us in the pre-development phase of the project,” said Gail Snowden, CEO of Freedom House. “With the support of the community and donors who help to match the grant, our new building will provide opportunities to expand our programming for youth, seniors, and community residents in order to meet our mission of promoting educational excellence, fostering civic engagement, uniting diverse communities and providing resources for some of Boston’s most distressed urban neighborhoods.”

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development authority, works with businesses, financial institutions and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2009, MassDevelopment financed or managed 229 statewide projects representing an investment of nearly $1.2 billion in the Massachusetts economy.

“Social service agencies like the Freedom House are crucial to our neighborhoods and it is important that we support them in these tough times,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “These Challenge Grants are a great example of that support as this $1 million will help the Freedom House well into the future of our great City.”

“The Freedom House is a viable community institution and a part of the human foundation in Roxbury; it is a historical landmark and a place that all ages feel welcomed a place that is open and accessible to the residents of Roxbury and Greater Boston. I am honored to be part of a legislative body that recognizes and understands that organizations like the Freedom House deserve resources to continue their mission in our Community,” said Representative Gloria L. Fox.