Central Ward Councilmen Darren Sharif unveiled yesterday what will be Newark’s first state of the art Resource Development Center. The commercial space is located on Market Street side in Renaissance Towers, (entrance is on 111 Mulberry Street), was obtained by the City of Newark, nearly 20 years ago, for rearranges in property taxes by the developer. The space previously has been used as a restaurant, not-for profit services, and as a dry cleaner, and shoe service repair shop.
With the assistance of a Community Development Block grant (CDBG) of more than $1 million in federal grants is being turned into a new education center that will serve the city.
The Councilman said, “the Mulberry Street facility, which is still under construction and scheduled to open in September, will serve a wide-range of interests”. The councilmen has been committed to providing educational resources to the community. From the learning session at Science Park, teaching students and adults, needed skills for the 21 Century. This Resources Center is a extension of this strategy.
The million dollar 4,000 square foot facility will provide residents with smart board equipped classrooms, computer labs, and a library. Councilman Darrin Sharif who spearheaded the project, says the center could help produce the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.
“When you look at them and how they got started they had resources available to them that they tapped into, our young people don’t have resources, and you know it’s important for them to play basketball and football but we have to give them other activities that develop those cognitive and intellectual skills that allow them to truly realize their genius.”
The center will include computer programming classes developed by MIT.
“You’ll walk in here one day and see UMDNJ or Newark Beth giving a workshop on hypertension,” he said. “Then you might come here on a Saturday and see 100 kids learning how to program.” Sharif said a nonprofit group he started called Community Partnerships for Change will raise the money to pay for the operational costs of center. But the activities within the center will be a collaborative effort of universities, nonprofit groups and other organizations.
At an event today celebrating the construction of the center in the city-owned building, leaders of higher education institutions in the city said they were dedicated to supporting the work at the facility in order to help the community.
“We will and can make a difference,” said Diane Hill, assistant chancellor at Rutgers University-Newark. Officials also said they hope the concept gains traction in other areas of the city. “We’re going to take some notes and hopefully replicate this in the North Ward some day,” said Anibal Ramos, the city’s North Ward councilman.
The facility, which is formally called the Center for Human Development and Civic Engagement, will include classrooms, a computer lab, a library and community space.
Construction at the site is about 70 percent complete.” It will open in September.