Called to Serve, a North Philadelphia nonprofit, recently received over $1 million in funding for The Reverend Leon H. Sullivan Community Impact Center.
The community center, which will occupy the annex at Zion Baptist Church of Philadelphia, received donations from philanthropist H. Chase Lenfest, North10 Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP), and the McLean Contributionship. Grant funding was also received with help from state Sen. Sharif Street and state Reps. Danilo Burgos and Darisha Parker.
“I’m honored to marshal resources for the Sullivan Community Impact Center,” Street said. “The various youth-based programs and community arts center will be integral to positively engage our young people, not only enhancing the future viability of our communities but having an immediate impact on promoting safe spaces and community safety. Deliberate, sustained investment in our kids is how we create a foundation for long-term success. The Community Impact Center builds on the legacy of Rev. Leon H. Sullivan while preparing our young scholars to be the leaders we know they can be.”
The Zion Baptist Church Annex was once seen as a pillar of the North Philadelphia community, offering programs to residents.
Under Called to Serve and Sullivan CDC, the donors said the space is being re-envisioned to provide opportunities for the community once again.
“This project will not only provide invaluable resources for North Philadelphia community members but bring new life and instill a revitalized sense of pride for the area,” Lenfest said. “The project leaders behind the Sullivan Community Impact Center, North10 Philadelphia, and I all share the commitment of responding to resident-driven plans for uplifting the neighborhood. This is our chance to see a new generation truly gain opportunities in their own backyards.”
Some of the programs committed to working with the center include BriDDge, a career pathway program for eSports or electronic sports, professional multiplayer video gaming. There will also be an arts center and co-op café bookstore. Likewise, the Temple Lenfest North Philadelphia Workforce Initiative, numerous community programs offered by the Center for Urban Bioethics of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine and Temple University Health System, and much more will be included.
“I represent an example of what is possible when people are provided with opportunities,” the Rev. Michael Major Sr., founder and board president of Called To Serve CDC, said.
The center will honor the legacy of Rev. Leon H. Sullivan, who was the pastor at Zion Baptist Church for over three decades.
The Called to Serve CDC and Sullivan CDC organizations will continue looking for more partners for the project, scheduled to open in 2023. The organizations are looking for donors to contribute $4 million more for the project.
Mosaic Development Partners, a Black-owned real estate development firm, will oversee the project’s construction.