November 28, 2016
BALTIMORE — East Baltimore is now home to a new 30,000-square-foot community center focused not just on kids, but everyone in the area.The Under Armour House at Fayette is a community center more than a year in the making. From a full-size gym with a basketball court to an indoor turf field, and spaces for just about every interest in between, the Under Armour House has something for everyone.
“It’s going to help us by experiencing new things and helping us preparing for the new world,” said Brea Branche, a student.
The center is run by Living Classrooms, an organization that also runs six other community centers in east Baltimore, but this one will be the heartbeat of their operation.
“Our goal is to disrupt the cycle of poverty using education, job training and health and wellness, a cradle-to-college career model, and working with thousands of children and youth adults, the entire family. It’s a multi-generational approach,” said James Piper Bond, CEO of Living Classrooms.
Adults can also benefit from things like workforce development and a GED program. Organizers are still conducting an assessment to determine exactly what programs the area needs.
“That’s how we know the resources to bring into the community, because at the end of the day, you can have a good center, but at the end of the day, are you honestly fitting the community needs? I grew up three blocks from here. I have to fit the community’s needs. This is my family,” said Travis Street, director of the Under Armour House.
We can do better now. We have opportunities to get better jobs.
Building the center took more than $10 million. Under Armour founder Kevin Plank made the investment he saw was needed in the area.
“In 1990, we had over 150 community centers around the city. Today, we have 42,” Plank said. “This one is meant to be a model. This is not just meant to be one new house.”
Students already taking advantage of the center are grateful for the opportunities it provides for their future.
“He giving us real life hope, a lot of hope, going on in Cherry Hill, at my school,” said Daquan Shackelford, a student. “We can do better now. We have opportunities to get better jobs. I’m a senior, so I might be able to graduate and work here sooner or later.”
The center, located in the 1100 block of East Fayette Street in the former Carmelo Anthony Center, is open five days a week, but organizers are hoping to get the funding to open seven days a week.