The NCAA Final Four is in town for a short time, yet some of the funds it generates will have a long-lasting impact on a Minneapolis community.
As a project of the 2019 Minneapolis Final Four Local Organizing Committee, the North Commons Recreation Center received a major face-lift. Dozens of community members and kids attended the dedication of the facility this week, where several speakers shared stories about what community centers meant to them. The formerly rundown facility in north Minneapolis has been transformed into a source of community pride, with new scoreboards, backboards, rims and sound system. The project also renovated spaces where kids can study, use computers and do artwork.
With contributions from the NCAA, Target and Dove Men Care, the recreation center project is part of the annual “community engagement” legacy projects in Final Four host cities.
There’s little question that rec centers make a difference — especially for lower-income students and families. National studies have shown that high-quality, out-of-school programs can reduce juvenile delinquency and violence, improve health and boost educational achievement. And when students do well in school, the quality of the future workforce goes up, too.
In St. Paul, a recreation center that had been without programming for a decade reopened last week on the city’s East Side. The Highwood Hills Recreation Center, in a predominantly Somali neighborhood, got new city funding and new life after residents and their elected officials urged the city to reinstate its programming.
Kudos to those involved in expanding and enhancing rec center space for youth in the region’s core cities. Those investments will bring big returns — both for neighborhood youth and for the state’s future.