The Change Center held a grand re-opening Friday, May 28th with Knoxville City Mayor Indya Kincannon, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, representatives from Knoxville City Council and Knox County Commission, local community advocates, Change Center staff and board members and supporters in attendance to celebrate the opening of the facility.
The Center was forced to halt activities in August 2020 due to rising Covid numbers. Before closing its doors the Change Center provided over 3,000 grab and go dinners for families; partnered with Knox Ed Foundation Community Schools to provide meal assembly for over 7,000 supplemental meals for students, partnered with Dogwood Arts to hand out art kits for children and with Knox County Schools to hand out education packets in an effort to address gaps exposed during the pandemic.
“Today was a day to celebrate not only our re-opening but also a celebration of partnerships and valued support from City and County government,” said Change Center Executive Director Dr. Nicole Chandler.”
A proposed partnership is in the works between The City of Knoxville and Knox County for a proposed allocation of $150,000 each to help support operations while the Change Center continues developing a post-Covid sustainability plan.
“In the wake of recent violence in the City, I am looking for pragmatic and impactful solutions on many fronts,” said Mayor Indya Kincannon. “The Change Center offers a safe, engaging place for young people, and a way for them to make healthy choices. Our support of the Change Center is another way to show our young people that this entire community cares and that we are committed to help stop the cycle of violence in Knoxville.”
“Hope is a powerful tool in implementing change,” said Mayor Jacobs. “My office is committed to working together with multiple partners to find impactful, long-lasting solutions and strategies to ensure that all citizens can thrive in an engaged and vibrant community.”
The Change Center was originally announced in 2016. The total projected start-up cost was $2.9 million, including $2.2 million for construction; $500,000 for equipment and fixtures; and $200,000 in pre-operating costs for planning and development. In addition to several private commitments, the building that currently houses the Change Center at 203 Harriet Tubman Street was donated by Pastor Daryl Arnold and the congregation of Overcoming Believers Church. The City of Knoxville has committed more than $700,000 since The Change Center’s opening, including Mayor Madeline Rogero’s initial pledge of $500,000 in city capital funds.
The multiplex center officially opened its doors December 21, 2018 with over 9,400 donors. In its first year over 31,810 guests were served and a safe space was provided on Saturday nights for 4,362 teenagers. Through the jobs initiative 47 teenagers were hired, worked 7,817 hours and earned $86,255.
“All of the reasons that the Change Center came to be still hold true today- now more than ever our city’s young people need layered supports to have safe, healthy thriving lives We all have the responsibility to help our young people connect with support systems vital to providing pathways to success,” said Chandler.
Moving forward the Change Center will be open for skating Friday through Sunday, and available for summer camp, field trips and special events Monday through Thursday. Safety protocols will be in place with mask wear and hand sanitizing stations, along with ionopure humidifiers throughout the facility.
For more information call The Change Center at 865.951.1567.