Eight years ago, we began quietly taking control of all derelict space around us - acquiring, demolishing, rolling four city blocks back to green, keeping structures able to be repurposed. All this in a community known as the epicenter of the “seven most deadly miles in the United States.” Our historic agency, The Christian Activity Center, is on the corner of 6th and Summit – exactly in this place.
Our purpose for this monumental undertaking was to give our community what every community needs: Access and opportunity. Breathing room. A Place to Grow for children and families.
This project is many projects in one: Completion of A 24 acre Community Park, An Early Childhood Center on the North Boundary, and A Workforce Development Center and a Cultural Arts Center on its Southern corners.
Children everywhere “create themselves out of their environment.“
What if your environment is insecure, unstable, unpredictable; devoid of beauty – untended, derelict, dangerous?
What if there is limited or no access to nutritious food, good jobs, or places to move, grow, play- without going somewhere else?
This has been the plight of our neighborhood and city for over half a century.
It is up to all of us to eradicate all things that undermine their potential. The time is NOW. Our plans for the last ten years have been about transforming this particular intersection of poverty and inequality into an intersection of growth and opportunity. We know that sometimes you cannot change anything without changing everything!
As an organization, CAC has a long history of transformative work inside our building – innovative programming that fills 70% of the out of school waking hours for children in our neighborhood from the time they are born until they are 18. Everyday, year round, year after year. We have worked very hard to be one of the best youth serving agencies in the State, and our metric attest to our success.
However, it is not enough. We are well aware that children do not live in programs, but in places. They are shaped by what is around them: the people in and around their lives, the conditions in and around their homes, everything about where they live. Origins play a major role in outcomes.