There are 11,000 children within a one-mile radius of the Salvation Army's Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center under construction at 2500 South Division, Grand Rapids. And plans to build a place where they and their families can learn art and dance, or blow off steam at the ropes course, swimming pool or fitness center just got a big boost of energy.
The Kresge Foundation has awarded the Kroc Center a $1 million challenge grant that could wrap up fundraising for the $25 million capital campaign. To get the money, the Kroc Center has to raise $2.5 million by March.
"There are tremendous needs in the neighborhood," says Major Roger Ross, Kroc Center administrator. "We have an excellent mix of diversity and our programs will be designed to address the needs within that diversity."
A recent demographic study determined that the neighborhood's ethnic diversity is 37 percent Hispanic, 30 percent African American, 29 percent White and four percent Asian.
Charrettes, interviews and door-to-door research revealed residents' top concerns: childhood obesity, lack of organized positive activities for children and teens, lack of English as a second language education and inadequate social skills development.
Kroc Center members will have the opportunity to grow produce in a community garden, then bring it into a commercial teaching kitchen to learn how to can it, make jams and jellies and cook.
Other features of the 20-acre property include hiking trails, tandem 500-foot zip lines connecting two ropes courses, a performance/worship center, a lazy river, a 28-foot spiral water slide, a three lane lap pool, a 20-person hot tub and a full gymnasium with lockers, showers and changing rooms.
"To walk through the structural steel and to see it rising up from the foundations is an absolute thrill," Ross says. "I go there almost every day and I can just envision the children whose lives are going to be changed because of this building."
Source: Major Roger Ross, Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center; Brian Burch, Lambert, Edwards & Associates
$30 Million Kroc center expected to spur Burton Heights redevelopment
Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].
Construction begins at The Salavation Army's new site -South Division
Photograph by Joshua Tyron -All Rights Reserved