WATTS — World renowned architect Frank Gehry will design the new local campus for Children’s Institute Inc., a nonprofit organization that serves children and families is some of Los Angeles’ most challenged communities.
The announcement was made Sept. 12 at a special event at Children Institute’s interim facility at 1522 E. 102nd St.
Gehry was joined by a host of local political leaders, officials and community organizations that have thrown their support behind the project, including county Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino and Assemblyman Mike Gipson, who all represent Watts.
The event was hosted by Accenture.
“Children’s Institute is an incredible organization with a vitally important mission,” Gehry said. “I am honored to be a part of this project, which will allow them to expand their reach to even more children and families.”
Ridley-Thomas was instrumental in getting the Board of Supervisors to approve granting Children’s Institute a free lease with an option to purchase its new Watts campus.
“Children’s Institute has long provided a safe haven for our most vulnerable, and now it is joining forces with the legendary Frank Gehry,” Ridley-Thomas said. “I am excited to see this new campus rise in Watts, as it will elevate the community on so many levels, from protecting children to creating a new architectural gem for the neighborhood.”
Once completed, the new two-acre Watts Campus will enable Children’s Institute to expand its comprehensive support services to 5,000 children and families in the area. The campus will include rooms for individual and group counseling, community meeting space, indoor and outdoor areas for after-school activities, early childhood education and child care, areas dedicated to youth development programs such as art and computer training, as well as expanded space for family support services and classes.
Gehry is donating his design services to the project.
“We are so fortunate to work with leaders and organizations in the community who are collectively striving to address the needs of children and families,” said Nina Revoyr, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Children’s Institute. “And we are proud, through our services and through this new facility, to be a part of a bigger change in Watts.”
Headquartered near downtown Los Angeles, Children’s Institute provides services to more than 24,000 children and families a year across Los Angeles County, helping them heal from the trauma of family and community violence, build the confidence and skills necessary to break through the barriers of poverty and grow up to lead healthy, productive lives.
The organization has provided social services from leased facilities in Watts for the past eight years and has been active in the area for more than a decade. The new Watts campus will be a beacon of hope in the surrounding landscape, providing a safe, welcoming community hub for children and families, Revoyr said.
“We are extremely excited to be partnering with Frank Gehry and Gehry Partners to bring this much-needed resource to the Watts community,” said Mary Emmons, president and chief executive officer for Children’s Institute. “The opportunity to expand and build upon the work we’ve accomplished is one of our main areas of focus. We are committed to the children and families of Watts.”
The $35 million Watts Campus capital project is the cornerstone of a larger campaign — Childfren’s Institute’s Building on Success comprehensive fundraising campaign — which will also raise funds for operations and other needs.
Major commitments to date include the Annenberg Foundation, the city of Los Angeles, the Colleagues, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Eisner Foundation, the Harold McAlister Charitable Foundation, the L.A. Galaxy Foundation, the Otis Booth Foundation, the John M. Carson Foundation, and the Philanthropic Society of Los Angeles.
“We are receiving enthusiastic responses because of the significant need we’re addressing in Watts as well as the bold vision for the facility that Mr. Gehry will be instrumental in helping us achieve,” said Charles Diamond, chairman of the Children’s Institute Board of Trustees.