Family First Community Center receives $3 million

The community center is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Cascade/Benson area community center proposed by Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin and the city of Renton is one step closer to becoming a reality.

First Financial Northwest Foundation (originally First Savings Bank of Renton) authorized $3 million capital campaign for the Family First Community Center.

“We are thrilled to receive this generous donation from First Financial Northwest Foundation,” said Mayor Denis Law in a press release. “The foundation recognizes the importance of safe and edifying spaces such as the Family First Community Center and the benefits that it can provide for the children and youth in our community.”

“We are extremely thankful for the incredible donation from First Financial Northwest Foundation,” said Baldwin in the release. “Together, we are committed to the health and wellness of all families in our community. We wouldn’t be able to make the progress we want to see without the generous help and support of organizations like First Financial Northwest Foundation. As a member of this community, we are grateful.”

The center is projected to be an approximate 25,000-square-foot center right next to Cascade Elementary School, in the heart of the Benson community. It aims to provide free educational and recreational opportunities, offer health and fitness programs, as well as have on-site health and wellness programs. It will also aim to have after-school classes and programs, including youth sports, art classes, music classes and technology classes.

The Benson area was chosen for this project largely due to the lack of investment in the area since the annexation of Benson Hill in 2008.

The $3 million capital campaign from First Financial Northwest Foundation comes four months after Renton City Council authorized up to $4 million for a capital campaign.

“The Foundation Board has been searching for a large community project that supports our mission statement,” said Joann Lee, foundation trustee, in the release. “The goals of Family First Community Center completely encompass many of the community support services that are important to this Board such as healthcare, after-school programs, sports, nutrition, academic mentoring, as well as forming partnerships with other local non-profit agencies to provide related services.”

Renton auto dealer Car Pros has pledged to make a donation to the community center for every car sold, and King County council members Dave Upthegrove and Reagan Dunn have authorized $75,000 from Kingdome surplus funds, according to the release.

The city estimates the entire project to cost around $15 million.

“Project partners will launch a full-fledged capital campaign to solicit additional partners and funds, develop a design for the center, and establish programs,” read the release.

In 2016, the population in the Benson/Cascade area was 23,769, which is about quarter of the city. According to the 2015 demographics, 12.8 percent of the population within the half mile radius of Cascade Elementary School was below the poverty line and earned less than $24,000 per household. Nearly 19 percent of the population is 14 years or younger and 65.5 percent of students from that area are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches.

“This significant financial contribution from First Financial Northwest Foundation is a major step towards fulfilling our goal to provide valuable services for local youth and families,” said Law in the release.

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