DETROIT (WXYZ) — A local nonprofit is fundraising to build a learning center on Detroit's east side.
Launched in 2010 as a community garden, Eden Gardens' Community Association (EGCA) is located on Glenfield St. near Roseberry Ave. on the city's east side. Their goal was to improve the lives of children in the neighborhood and break down barriers to success through education and enrichment.
In the last 12 years, the nonprofit has received adjacent land through donations. On that land, they built a small orchard with cherry and pear trees and a playground. They also installed picnic tables and a gazebo for neighbors who may not have access to parks elsewhere.
"We have worked hard to change this environment to make it a pleasant place for people that live in the community and also for the children," said Karen Knox who is the president of EGCA. "The children, at one time, were playing in vacant houses."
Knox says neighborhood kids now have a place to come throughout the summer months to play and learn. They've been offering gardening and enrichment courses Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The teachers are all volunteers.
To expand their teaching capabilities, EGCA is working to turn a long vacant brick home on their property into a learning center. In a partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), EGCA launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000.
Knox says they've already started working on the HVAC system, electric and plumbing.
"This center is going to be the center of our community to bring people in to teach and provide and to change the set of this environment and that’s our goal: to always make it a better place for everyone who lives here," said Knox as she sat on the front steps of the home that will become the learning center.
Knox says the money will help overhaul the front porch and complete a renovation inside the house which includes the installation of a kitchen and bathroom facilities.
It will also give volunteers a space to teach things like robotics, reading, math and engineering. Knox says they plan to offer mental health counseling and career services for returning citizens looking for job placement.
"As you know with COVID, our children fell far behind and in this community a lot of children don’t have the proper things they need to catch up. So this is important for children and also returning citizens who come back from the community," said Knox. "We can have scientist. We can have engineers. We can have lawyers but they need to know that it’s in their reach."
If EGCA can raise $50,000 by January 1, they will win a matching grant from the MEDC.
Knox says she's hoping to have the center up and running by next summer. Donations for the project will be accepted through their crowdfunding campaign. More information about the nonprofit can be found by clicking here.