In 2011, Mayor Michael Coleman issued a call for action for Columbus's south side, and a small group of families--the Grote, Crane, and Kelley families--heeded the call. This small group is building prosperity on the south side of Columbus in ways unimaginable even just five years ago. Their initial commitment of $3 million (Grote family $1.5 million, Crane Group $1 million, and Kelley family $500,000) was the catalyst for a $5 million commitment from the City of Columbus to launch the Reeb School Renewal campaign. In addition, the Grote and Kelley families created South Side Renaissance, to give homeowners on the south side $15,000 grants for home improvements.
The public-private partnership that formed is creating a unique model that has not yet been seen in our community. There are multiple efforts to improve housing, education, and job opportunities on the south side, yet the cornerstone of these efforts is the renovation of the historic Reeb Avenue School, which is being reborn as the Reeb Avenue Center.
The City took ownership of Reeb in 2012 from Columbus City Schools, and will continue to own the building with the Reeb Avenue Center nonprofit entity serving as the master tenant. Reeb last served the community as an elementary school in 2009 and the building is now listed on the local register of historic properties. Reeb will be renewed so that it can house a dynamic collection of nonprofits to provide programs and services that meet the needs, and inspire the spirit, of the south side neighborhood.
The capital campaign, Reeb School Renewal, is led by co-chairs Tanny Crane and Jane Grote Abell. They have achieved raising more than $12 million for construction and are in the process of raising $4 million for an endowment to offset the operating costs of the building. To date, we have received gifts and pledges from more than 30 donors.
Reeb Avenue Center is collaborative by design. It will be more than just a renovated building that houses multiple agencies, it will have intentional pathways between tenants so that each nonprofit can help to serve the holistic needs of every person who walks through the front door.
We envision a mom dropping her infant off at South Side Learning & Development Center, then walking over to the South Side Roots Café in the historic building for breakfast before she goes to COWIC for job training, or to Godman Guild for her GED, or to a new job she attained through the help of our tenants and partners. Her first grader will then go to the Boys & Girls Club after school, allowing her to pick up both children at the end of the day, and to pick up produce in the market managed by the Mid-Ohio Foodbank and Community Development for All People, before going home. Should she need more support, St. Stephen's, Eastway Behavioral Health, and others are also in the building to meet her needs.