Youth Wellness Campus gets grant from trust

$1 million grant from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Trust received

Last week, the Youth Wellness Campus was awarded a $1 million grant from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Trust, which is managed by The Seattle Foundation.

The future campus will be on the site of the former East Bremerton High School and is a public-private partnership that will be focused on advanced education, nutrition and wellness programs to serve the Kitsap community, mainly children.

“We are incredibly grateful for this generous grant, the mission of the Youth Wellness Campus is very much in alignment with what Mr. Birkenfeld believed in,” said Peggy Templeton, Youth Wellness Campus board president in a press release.

“This investment should be an inspiration to all of us, it will help create a lasting legacy for community youth for many generations to come.”

Keith Birkenfeld passed away in 2005 and left behind an estate to be distributed through annual grants for Kitsap County non-profits.

The grant is one of many that will be utilized for the campus, Youth Wellness Campus Executive Director Patricia Hennessy said. The grant will allow the board to “aggressively move forward” on the project.

As part of the overall plan, a Boys & Girls Club building is in the works on Wheaton Way. Lindquist Dental Clinic for Children will also be housed in the same building. Hennessy said that investments made in the entire campus total $23 million.

“We have very committed partners,” Hennessy said. “My organization is shooting for about $16-17 million give or take. Approximately $4 million has been raised through a successful and now completed capital campaign led by the Boys & Girls Club of South Puget Sound and Lindquist Dental Clinic for Children.

“An additional $4 million will be invested by Bremerton School District when they build the new children nutrition services kitchen estimated to be built in 2016.  Funding for this project comes through a capital levy that approved in the 2011 general election.”

Partners involved include the City of Bremerton, Bremerton School District, Kitsap County Health District, Boys and Girls Club of South Puget Sound and Lindquist Dental Clinic for Children.

“As the project advances, there will be partnerships with sports and fitness organizations, health care agencies, arts and music programs and, collaborative efforts with local chefs and farmers,” read a Youth Wellness Campus press release.

“Redevelopment of the property includes renovation of the existing gymnasium, construction of a facility to house a variety of services,  and building a small year-round marketplace featuring local food and craft products.”

According to Hennessy, 125,000 square feet of the current campus will be demolished to house the various services for children and their families. However, the existing gym will be renovated. The project idea has been in the works for years, and started under former Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman.

The overall idea of the center is to allow kids to learn and become passionate about sports, fitness, arts, nutrition and the like, Hennessy said.

“It’s a big project. Our targeted completion is 2016,” said Hennessy.

Although the newest grant is a drop in the bucket, it is still funding the overall goal. About $8 million of the project has been funded so far, Hennessy said. In the upcoming weeks, board members will host their monthly meeting to receive updates on the project status, including nailing down where the future funding will come from such as state, federal and individual donor gifts.

There are currently around 150 funding options the board is looking into at the moment, the executive director said.

“We are in the early stages. We’ve identified quite a few funding opportunities. We’re finalizing the master plan and cost estimates,” Hennessy said. “We have a very philanthropic community and region…I’m not too worried about finding the funding to bring this home and make it happen.”