The waiting lists keep growing for preschool admission, mental health therapy and counseling for sex trafficking victims at the Family Partnership.
That’s why the more than century-old Minneapolis nonprofit says it needs to build a new $22 million resource center to keep up with the increasing demand for services. The nonprofit, which plans to break ground on the new center this winter and open it in early 2021, will move programs spread across the city into one building that will have more than three times the space.
The project, half of which is being publicly funded, is part of a broader revitalization of a busy Lake Street intersection marked by vacant lots and empty storefronts. Next door, the nonprofit Project for Pride in Living plans to break ground in 2020 on a $16 million building with 50 units of affordable housing.
“It’s really an exciting time to be moving here,” said Molly Greenman, CEO of the Family Partnership. “We hope it will give us more opportunity to serve more people. The challenges for kids and families who are living in poverty are enormous and stressful.”
The project still needs Minneapolis City Council approval, but the Planning Commission approved the plans Monday.
The new center is backed by $10 million in state bonding money, along with a $1.6 million state planning grant and $2.2 million in tax credits — the largest amount of public funding the nonprofit has ever received in its 140-year history. Another $8.1 million came from the Peter J. King Family Foundation, Otto Bremer Trust and donations from other individuals and foundations.
“They’re one of the organizations that really is putting their money where their mouth is, really doubling down and investing and doing that right in the community,” said state Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, who co-sponsored the bonding bill aid. “That investment is well-needed and the services that they offer … [are] critical to dealing with some of the neighborhood issues.”
Across the state, 1 in 5 Minnesotans face mental illness each year, according to state data. The number of sexually exploited children and young adults receiving help in Minnesota has also risen significantly.
At the Family Partnership, its programs have seen a greater need in the past five years and now all have waiting lists.
At the bustling corner of Bloomington Avenue and Lake Street, a vacant old bank, parking lot and other empty lots will be transformed by the new building.
The bank will be partly demolished for a two-story building while the nonprofit renovates an existing portion of the building and expands it to create an approximately 43,000-square-foot “one-stop hub” for its services. Inside, 75 employees will staff therapy offices, community meeting spaces and administrative offices, allowing the nonprofit to expand its mental health programs, including adding Spanish-speaking therapists, as well as more counseling for sex trafficking survivors.
“Unfortunately, Lake Street has been synonymous with [sex trafficking] for a long time,” Hayden said. “To be able to have a safe haven in the community … I think is really important to try to get to the root causes of some of these social issues we have.”
The nonprofit mostly helps low-income Hennepin County residents, serving more than 17,000 families and children each year.
Some days, the staff at the Family Partnership’s Four Directions preschool — a multicultural, therapeutic preschool — won’t let children play outside at its current location off E. 24th Street in Minneapolis because of concerns about gun violence in the neighborhood. Still, there are waiting lists for the preschool’s Ojibwe and Dakota language immersion classrooms taught on site by the Wicoie Nandagikendan program, which are among the few Native American language preschool classrooms in Minnesota.
The new site will add additional language immersion classrooms and a safe outdoor play area for the children.
“Adding this new development is going to be great for the neighborhood,” said Allison Sharkey, executive director of the Lake Street Council, a business coalition.
An M Health Fairview Clinic at the site will stay put, renting space from the nonprofit in the new building. For the Family Partnership, which changed its name in 2010 from Family and Children’s Services, the center marks a significant benchmark in its history and helps it continue to grow, Greenman said.
“It’s an incredible milestone and one that we hope will support our sustainability long into the future,” she said. “This is going to allow us to have an even greater impact for the decades to come.”