Charles Mingus, the musician, grew up in a small house around the corner from the structure that would become known the world over as the 'Watts Towers of Simon Rodia'. He attended local schools in the neighborhood. His collaborator, Buddy Collette, started a Jazz Mentorship Program, which is the foundation of the music program at the center. The two-story center also has art and theater programs for children. The design architect was Celso Del Poso.