Opened in June 2012, The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center offers recreational and performing arts facilities, including an indoor sports complex, an aquatic center, an outdoor stadium, a fitness center, and a 600-seat performing arts center. The family life and education center also offers an array of job-training courses and workshops. The center now serves as a safe oasis in West Pullman, which has long been plagued by gang violence, drug use, and poor educational performance. More than 250,000 people live within a 3-mile radius of the site, and of those, more than one-third are under the age of 18. By the center’s first anniversary in June 2013, more than 8,000 community residents had joined as members, and more than 1,500 visited the center on an average weekend day.
In addition, the community center also has acted as an engine for economic stimulus in the area and is expected to attract new businesses that will create hundreds of new jobs and boost economic stability. The community center has already created 200 permanent jobs, and the construction of the center created 220 jobs. The community center’s job readiness and training programs will also prepare numerous residents for steady jobs, elevating its job creation impact far beyond the size of its own employee base.