"It's the worst kept secret on Minneapolis' North Side," Juxtaposition Arts CEO DeAnna Cummings said Thursday, announcing a four-year campaign to raise $14 million for the youth-development organization.

The funds will be used for a new building at W. Broadway and Emerson Avenue N., where two decrepit structures had to be demolished this spring after brickwork began crumbling.

The organization already has secured $1.6 million, including $1.3 million from the McKnight Foundation.

JXTA, as it's called, employs young people on the North Side, training them for future jobs in creative fields. Since its founding 23 years ago, it has taught about 3,000 children and young adults.

Among them is Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, who started taking classes at age 7. He was at Thursday's event with his father, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

The Minneapolis congressman said he is grateful for JXTA's role in his son's life, and stressed the importance of community-focused organizations that prepare young people to be contributors to society.

"If any of you all have been in the position where you had to raise a child, you hope and pray that they will grow up into an adult person and make the community better — and you can't do it alone," Ellison said.

The McKnight Foundation's upfront commitment is unusual, as the organization typically helps finish a campaign. "Our foundation is deepening our commitment to racial equity in our state ... [and] to transform disinvested neighborhoods," said McKnight President Kate Wolford.

The empty lot on Broadway will be filled temporarily with a skateable art plaza. JXTA recently finished raising funds for that project. Employing youths from the neighborhood, it will be ready as a pop-up space by the end of the summer or early fall.

Alicia Eler • 612-673-4438 Twitter: @AliciaEler