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Edgecliff Neighborhood Center faces closure

Sat., July 25, 2009

Volunteer-run site in Edgecliff neighborhood is out of funds

The Edgecliff neighborhood was devastated when Pratt Elementary was shut down in 2007, but residents managed to partially resurrect their neighborhood gathering place as the Edgecliff Neighborhood Center last year. Now that, too, is in jeopardy because of a lack of funds. The center will close Aug. 31 if a federal grant does not materialize.

The neighborhood center opened in February 2008 to provide after-school programs for children. The city of Spokane Valley and a private donor came up with enough money to rent the building, and the center has been run by volunteers. Now the donated money is gone, said Spokane Valley Partners CEO Ken Briggs.

Valley Partners, a nonprofit that provides emergency services including a food and clothing bank, has been serving as the fiscal agent for the center. The group applied for a $600,000 federal grant, enough to run the center for two years and hire a director to make the program self-sustaining. Word was supposed to come by June 30 if the grant would be awarded, but Briggs has heard nothing and said he doesn’t expect to until early next month..

“We have to shut it down because we’re out of funding,” Briggs said. “We have made the decision to close down by Aug. 31, which is when our lease runs out.”

The center has a library and computer lab. During the school year, students can go there to get help with their homework. During the summer there are recreational activities at the old school. There are also occasional adult classes, open gym nights and free movies.

“We are the whole thing other than the senior Meals on Wheels,” Briggs said.

Valley Partners searched for other grant opportunities but came up empty, Briggs said. While the neighborhood center is a worthwhile program, it doesn’t fit in with Valley Partners’ mission to provide emergency assistance to low-income residents, and the nonprofit has no money to fund it. The group is still trying to raise the final $90,000 it needs to pay for a food warehouse under construction.

“We have to stick to our knitting here,” Briggs said. “I have to stick with our core programs. We can’t stretch ourselves any thinner than we are now.”

If the center hears before Aug. 31 that it has been awarded the grant, business will go on as usual. And even if the center is shut down, it would immediately reopen if funding is found, Briggs said. “Otherwise, it’s going to die.”

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