CHICAGO – The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center on the South Side of Chicago at 1250 W. 119th Street will officially open with a full weekend of public festivities on Saturday, June 16, and Sunday, June 17.
The weekend will kick-off with a Grand Opening Ceremony and Ribbon Cutting on Saturday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Joined by elected officials, hundreds of community residents, celebrity athletes, donors and supporters, The Salvation Army will cut the red ribbon on the state-of-the-art facility, which includes the largest array of sports, arts, educational and supportive programs for the public anywhere in the city in a single community center campus. The audience will enjoy performances by The Kroc Corps Singing Company children’s choir, as well as the Kroc Corps Praise Dance Team and students from area schools will accompany the Salvation Army Mayfair Corps Brass Band.
An Open House will follow the ceremony from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. This will be the first opportunity for the public to tour the building. Demonstrations will be taking place in every area of the Kroc Center, showcasing the sports, aquatics, music education, adult education and other programs that the Kroc Center will offer.
Saturday evening from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., The Salvation Army will host a free public concert featuring local church choirs and Kroc Center choirs. On Sunday, June 17, The Salvation Army Kroc Corps will hold a special Worship and Dedication Service from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The Chicago Kroc Center has the potential to make a tremendous impact on the far South Side, with a particular focus on stemming violence, creating jobs and providing safe and enriching opportunities for all ages. More than 250,000 people live within a three-mile radius of the site. More than a third is under age 18. About 2,500 people are expected to use the Kroc Center daily.
“The Kroc Center promises to dramatically improve the lives of children and teens who need a safe haven,” said Lt. Col. Ralph Bukiewicz, Metropolitan Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army. “It will provide abundant opportunities to build their skills in a variety of activities previously unavailable to them, like swimming, diving, golf, soccer, dramatic arts and music. The Kroc Center is within three miles of 20 schools. The entire family will find programs and activities at the Kroc Center to inspire and engage them — mind, body and soul.”
Kroc Center Will Combat Violence and Create Jobs
“We have developed a terrific partnership with the local Police Department, and The Salvation Army’s increased presence and public events in the parks, like health fairs and flag football have demonstrated that the Kroc Center’s outdoor campus and many outdoor playing fields can be a safe, violence-free zone where children from all of the surrounding neighborhoods can come together in peace, to learn, play and grow,” said Major David Harvey, Salvation Army Kroc Center Administrator.
“Because of crime, I can only play in the front of my house and in my backyard,” said Caitlyn Bell, 9, a 4th grader at Jesse Owens Community Academy in Roseland. “I’ve been singing with The Salvation Army Singing Company for the last three years, and I love singing. I am excited about the Kroc Center because it will give me a safe place to go and play. When the Kroc Center opens, I not only want to play in the water park, I want to have leading roles in the musicals and play.”
The Kroc Center created about 220 construction jobs during its two-year construction phase. Once open, it will create more than 200 permanent, full- and part-time jobs. The Kroc Center will provide job readiness and training programs. It is also expected to improve the economic stability of the surrounding neighborhood. Like Kroc Centers in other cities, the Chicago Kroc Center is expected to attract new business, create hundreds of jobs, increase economic stability and lower crime rates.
A Destination for the Entire Family
The 160,000-square-foot Kroc Center sits on a 33 acre campus and will offer a wide array of activities and services for people of all ages, making it a unique destination for the entire family. Proposed programs and ministries include opportunities for worship, educational classes, sports, arts, fitness and support programs. Recreational features include an indoor sports complex, an outdoor stadium, basketball and tennis courts, an aquatic center, a state-of-the art fitness center, basketball courts and more. Outdoor recreational facilities include a sports stadium, a golf training center, baseball diamonds, batting cages, tennis courts and running track.
The Family Life and Education Center will offer an array of classes and educational workshops for people of all ages, including job training, GED preparation, tutoring, computer literacy, financial planning, parenting classes and health screenings.
The Kroc Center’s Academy of the Arts includes a 600-seat performing arts center;; a media center with recording video production studios; as well as studios for instrument, vocal, dance and art instruction.
A Wide Variety of Programs Already Underway
The Salvation Army has already made a difference in area schools. For the past five years, The Salvation Army Kroc Project Team of instructors and program officers has run a wide range of arts, educational, sports, after-school programs and summer camps for students from four schools near the Kroc Center: Higgins Community Academy, Johnnie Coleman Academy, Kipling Elementary School and Songhai Elementary Learning Institute.
Bulls and White Sox Partner with The Salvation Army
Chicago White Sox Charities – the team’s philanthropic arm – has generously donated $1 million to the Kroc Center. Kroc Center recreational facilities will include baseball and softball diamonds, where White Sox inner-city youth teams will play and train. The Chicago Bulls Charitabulls also donated $1 million. The main basketball court features the unmistakable Chicago Bulls logo center-court.
These grants are in addition to two anonymous lead gifts of $10 million and $2 million. The Bank of America has awarded $500,000 to the Kroc Center. The Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust also awarded two grants totaling $500,000. The Kroc Center has received 26 donations at $100,000 or above.
The Salvation Army announced that commitments of $37 million have been made so far in the ongoing fundraising efforts to build and endow the Kroc Center, with fundraising continuing during the ongoing campaign. This amount is in addition to the $109.8 million from the Joan Kroc estate, awarded to the Chicago project by The Salvation Army Central Territorial Headquarters for the 11 Midwestern States. The Salvation Army capital campaign will establish an endowment large enough to ensure operational startup costs, funding for programming, program scholarships and materials, such as sports equipment and musical instruments. The Kroc Center will represent a total investment of $159.8 million, the largest single investment by a social service organization in Chicago’s history.