Two years after the Edna Martin Christian Center purchased a building and 13 acres of land for $1 on Indianapolis’ northeast side, the group celebrated its newly renovated Leadership and Legacy Center with an open house Nov. 20. It marked the completion of the first phase of its two-phase renovation project to the area.
The renovated building was originally a distribution center. The Edna Martin Christian Center worked alongside the Shepherd Community Center for years in the building until 2016. That’s when Shepherd sold the land to the Edna Martin Christian Center, which was growing too large for its nearby original site, 37 Place, east of 25th Street and Keystone Avenue.
The Edna Martin Christian Center was founded in 1941 as a faith-based and human services agency that provided community programs to bridge gaps between cultural, racial and economic differences. Today, the organization operates a network of neighborhood action programs that focus on education, workforce development and community health.
Tysha Hardy-Sellers, executive director of the Edna Martin Christian Center, described the Leadership and Legacy Center as an “extension and expansion” of what the organization has been doing. That includes programs for school-age kids and seniors. The building can serve 350 kids and 100 seniors, according to a press release issued by the organization. The center will also have a new early childhood center, which will be able to serve 80 children.
“Our goal is to ensure that we have the opportunities available to this community, making sure they have access to everything they need in order to live, work, play and learn in a space that’s going to be inspiring,” Hardy-Sellers said.
The Edna Martin Christian Center now begins the second phase of its renovation project, which Hardy-Sellers said will be about addressing gaps in the community. An entrepreneurship center will offer businesses a place to plan and eventually launch. A two-acre community farm will address food insecurity, and there will be a space for family literacy and counseling for adults.
The renovations to the Leadership and Legacy Center cost $3 million, according to a press release. The second phase of renovations will cost $2.4 million. Funding sources include the City of Indianapolis and United Way of Central Indiana, as well as individuals and groups such as churches and business, according to Hardy-Sellers.
Another part of the second phase is supporting KIPP Indy Public Schools, which broke ground the same day on a high school on the south end of the new campus. KIPP is a nonprofit network of public charter schools that operates 209 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia. KIPP Indy Public Schools was founded in 2004 and has an elementary and middle school in the area.
The Edna Martin Christian Center and KIPP have had a partnership since 2010, according to Barato Britt, who sits on KIPP’s board and is also in charge of operations at the Leadership and Legacy Center. Britt said KIPP Indy High School is a continuation of that relationship, which will include after-school and summer programs for students.
The hope is a strong partnership between the two entities will enhance the cultivation of talent that already exists in the community.
“We have tried to grow the Edna Martin Christian Center program to be more comprehensive, to really round out a continuum that proves the correlation between program participation and actual good community outcomes,” Britt said.
The high school, which will open in August 2019, will start with 120 freshmen, according to School Leader David Spencer. It will add a freshman class each of the following three years until it is at full capacity.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.