Robinson Community Center expanding, more opportunities for kids

NOW: Robinson Community Center expanding, more opportunities for kids

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A South Bend community center, committed to helping kids learn and grow, is expanding.

The Robinson Community Learning Center broke ground Monday at the new site, right across the street from the old one on Eddy Street.

The center works with Notre Dame to serve about 3,000 people in the South Bend area. Community members said the space needed an upgrade to continue its mission.

There will be 5,000 more square feet than the current building. That doesn’t sound like a huge deal until you find out this means more kids can use programs like the after school program.

So, the expansion doesn’t just bring more space, it brings more opportunities for youth to stay away from violence.

It’s an empty lot right now but by the fall of 2020, a new and improved Robinson Community Learning Center will take up the space.

The center will larger, allowing more kids to come through the doors.

“We always have a pretty high enrollment and we do have to turn kids away from the after-school program, things like that, just cause, we just don’t have the space,” Jennifer Knapp Beudert, the center’s manager said.

More teens will be positively affected.

“When we have centers like this being built, that is the testimony for them to see that the city cares. I think that’s what we need and that’s what we’re lacking,” Eli Cantu, a community activist said.

It’s something, many in our community say is integral to stopping youth violence.

“If we have empowered youth, then we have a safe, reliable future,” Cantu said it will bring the community together. “This is one of the things that can bridge the gap between the neighborhood and the police, the neighborhood and the city officials, the neighborhood and the city as a whole.”

The center will not only have an updated computer room with laptops instead of desktops and bigger and better classroom but will also have a green space outside for kids to be active.

“It’s very important for us to have this type of resources in our neighborhoods because, like parks, just like hubs, they create bonds, they create friendships,” Cantu said.

The center educates people of all ages and is seeing positive results.

“We have really good retention,” Beudert said some graduates even come back to serve. “They’re coming back to want to give back to the community that nurtured them.”

The groundbreaking was Monday, construction officially starts Tuesday and Beudert said that the entire building should be open by fall 2020.

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