After three years of planning and fundraising, Jeremiah Program Rochester-Southeast Minnesota will break ground on its $16.5 million campus on Monday, July 29. A major gift of $1 million from Harper Family Foundation last month rounded out the commitments to move the project forward.
“This generous gift keeps us on track for transformational programming aimed at single mothers and their families,” said JoMarie Morris, Jeremiah Program Rochester-Southeast Minnesota executive director. “From the first discussions to these final dollars, all sectors of the community have rallied to bring this project to fruition.”
Solution for community challenges
Jeremiah Program is a national nonprofit aimed at ending the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children two generations at a time. The impetus for bringing the project to the area stemmed from the rising number of low-income single-mother households, lack of affordable housing and the increased need for a trained workforce.
“Jeremiah really hits all the hot buttons,” said Morris. “Our program addresses a career-track education for moms, quality early childhood education, secure housing, training, and support services all on one campus. We bundle critical services to better serve our clients enabling them to do the hard work of breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. A win for the entire community.”
Families already benefiting from the program
When completed in the summer of 2020, the campus will house 40 families and offer wrap-around services. Prerequisite for enrollment includes attending Jeremiah’s signature Empowerment Training.
“Twelve families have already graduated from Empowerment Training and are enrolled. We have 20 more families scheduled for the course,” said Morris. “This course and our program plan are intense. The women are building a sisterhood necessary to support one-another and learning critical techniques from coaches for keeping their family stable.”
Public welcome to the groundbreaking ceremony
The public is invited to a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday, July 29 at 10:30 a.m. The event will be held at the campus building site located near the intersection of Valleyhigh Drive and 19th Street Northwest in Rochester. A reception will follow at the site. If there is inclement weather, the reception will take place at St. Mary’s University Cascade Meadow, next door.
Along with local dignitaries and partners, groundbreaking guests will include Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho. During a listening tour in Rochester in March of this year, Ho said part of the solution to more affordable housing is to look for new approaches to old problems.
“Jeremiah Program strives for innovation and evidence-based approaches,” said Morris. “We have worked with a cross-section of the community to get to this point and we won’t stop there. Together we can achieve our goals to end generational poverty. This campus is a ground zero for changing lives.”
Weis Builders has been tapped for construction of the 64,000 square-foot campus because of their quality work and extensive experience with low-income tax incentive projects, according to Morris. CRW Architecture & Design Group, who has a long-time commitment to community-based projects, developed the design that includes housing, child development center, community room and more.
Funds needed to furnish campus
An additional fundraising push for $350,000 continues for outfitting the apartments, classrooms, offices and common areas.
“We are so close to creating a space of welcome and promise,” said Morris. “The community continues to rally. We need help to finish this last element of the building project.”
A unique opportunity to give toward the housing project is through Buy-a-Brick. Donors are able to have a brick engraved to honor a loved one, highlight a business and more. The bricks will form the pathway and patio to the campus community room. Learn more here.
Jeremiah Program is one of the nation’s most successful strategies to end the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children two generations at a time. Jeremiah moms live at the campus with their children while they receive support for a career-track education that will provide a livable wage job. The 64,000 square-foot Jeremiah Program Rochester-Southeast MN campus will provide safe, affordable housing for 40 low-income single mothers and their young children, an on-site child development center offering Head Start and Early Head Start for 64 children through a partnership with Families First of Minnesota, outdoor play areas, an empowerment and life skills training center, and a community meeting and gathering space.