Urban Edge Gets $500K Gift for $21M Capital Campaign

June 8, 2016 — Urban Edge, a community development nonprofit that operates in the Boston neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain and Roxbury and surrounding communities, recently announced that it has received a $500,000 donation from the Roy A. Hunt Foundation to support its capital campaign to build the Jackson Square Recreation Center.

The campaign to raise $21.5 million, which launched last summer, will fund construction of the two-story, 75,000-square-foot facility, including a regulation size ice rink and a year-round turf field, that will serve 26,000 young people who live within 1.5 miles of Jackson Square in Jamaica Plain.

Urban Edge Chief Executive Officer Frank Shea, said, “It is gratifying to see philanthropic organizations like the Roy A. Hunt Foundation understand how a recreation center will vastly improve the quality of life and provide opportunities for young people living in this neighborhood.”

According to Urban Edge, research shows that when young people have access to recreational and afterschool activities, school attendance and grades improve, risky behavior decreases, and young people gain life skills and lifelong healthy habits.

Today, only 10% of youth ages between the ages of 5 and 18 who would likely take advantage of the new center participate in after school sports, arts, or recreational activities, in large part because they do not have a recreation center that is accessible and affordable, Urban Edge said.

In addition to community support, the $21.5 million project has backing from public officials, including a recently $5.69 million state bond to help build the facility. Urban Edge said the project is likely to qualify for an additional $4 million in net New Market Tax Credit equity.

In addition, to date Urban Edge has raised more than $1 million in other funds, including a $200,000 Brownfields Cleanup Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Urban Edge said needs to raise another $10 million to complete the center.

Olympic gold medalist Mike Eruzione, a member of the capital campaign committee, said, "There is no doubt that being able to play youth hockey changed my life, and eventually led to me winning a gold medal as part of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. Unfortunately, there are thousands of kids in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain who don’t have access to those same kind of recreational opportunities."

The idea for the recreation center came from the community, which recognized that local young people did not have the same access to recreational activities, especially in the winter months, as their peers in suburban communities.

The campaign committee for the Jackson Square Recreation Center is co-chaired by Morgan Stanley’s Jim Geraghty, and City Year’s Charlie Rose. Members include Olympic gold medalist Mike Eruzione, The BASE founder Robert Lewis, Jr., philanthropist Joe O’Donnell, New Politics founder Emily Cherniack, Peter and Stephanie O’Sullivan of the O’Sullivan Hockey Academy, Bob Sweeney of the Boston Bruins Foundation, former Boston Bruin Graeme Townshend, and Wayne Ysaguirre of the Nurtury.

Founded in 1974, Urban Edge aims to develop and sustain stable, healthy and diverse communities through the production and preservation of affordable housing for ownership and rental, homeowner services and financial education, asset management, commercial and economic development, and community building, and organizing initiatives.