The Cedar Riverside Partnership has reached its fundraising goal for the new Opportunity Center, following news of a $25,000 commitment from the Pat and Tom Grossman Fund of the Minnesota Community Foundation, and a $150,000 commitment from the McKnight Foundation.
“This is tremendous news,” stated Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow, Chair of the Partnership. “It is a strong sign of our region’s collective commitment to the youth of Cedar Riverside.”
Following the Pohlad Family Foundation’s $100,000 commitment to the Opportunity Center announced August 10, the McKnight commitment brings the total funds raised to $950,000, the sum required in capital funds to build the Opportunity Center. Other confirmed funders include the Otto Bremer Foundation ($150,000), Hennepin County ($250,000), the City of Minneapolis ($100,000), and the Minneapolis Foundation ($75,000).
County Signs Lease
The news of these funding commitments came just in time for Hennepin County to meet a September 9 deadline to sign the ten-year lease for the first floor mixed-use space of the Five15 on the Park building across from the Brian Coyle Center. Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin praised the collective community response following the County’s initial commitment of $250,000 to the Center.
“We have been working on this vision of a center for education and job opportunities for Cedar Riverside youth for nearly two years,” he reflected. “This is just one more example of what we can achieve through partnership in Cedar Riverside.”
Commissioner McLaughlin also praised the leadership of Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame.
“Abdi saw the significance of this center for the community early on,” he noted. “Without his leadership and support, this never would have happened.”
Council Member Warsame stated that this news and the future opening of the Opportunity Center will fulfill one of his highest priorities.
“We face many challenges with our young people,” he explained. “This Opportunity Center will be a very concrete way that we can meet our youth with clear pathways to education, employment, and success.”
State Senator Kari Dzeidzic has also worked hard to advocate for resources for the Opportunity Center. Her efforts included $400,000 in funding for the Center in the tax bill that was not signed by the Governor for other reasons. Senator Dzeidzic is working to obtain other state funding sources to support the Center’s programs and operations.
“This Center has been a high priority for me,” she stated. “I am thrilled to see that our partnership can be so successful.”
Hard Work on Program Design
Hennepin County has contracted with EMERGE to manage and operate the Opportunity Center. EMERGE CEO Mike Wynne views the development of the Center as an historic milestone for Cedar Riverside.
“We know how much this project means to the neighborhood,” he stated. “The strength of this collaboration will really enhance our capacity to move people into better lives.”
Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) will be another key anchor at the Center, and MCTC President Sharon Pierce also welcomed news of the Center moving forward.
"MCTC shares a commitment with the Cedar Riverside Partnership to improving access to the transformative power of education," she stated. "We are pleased to be engaged with this partnership and excited that this new initiative will better connect Cedar Riverside youth with our pathways to career opportunities."
A strong Core Team of community leaders has worked for more than 18 months to develop a program design that has strong neighborhood support. Amano Dube, Director at the Brian Coyle Center, has been deeply involved in crafting this vision.
“Our youth and young adults are very hungry for real opportunities to pursue education and a good job,” he stated. “This Opportunity Center can hopefully be a place where these dreams become reality.”
Engagement with both public and private employers at the Center is a key to the program design. Laura Beeth, System Director for Talent Acquisition at Fairview Health Services, has been a strong supporter for the Opportunity Center and hopes that it will enhance the pathways for Cedar Riverside residents to health care careers.
“We know that we deliver better health care when our workforce reflects the background of our patients,” she explained. “So we believe that hiring young people from Cedar Riverside will only strengthen our organization.”
Construction of the Opportunity Center is expected to begin this Fall, and the Center should be ready to open early in 2017.