Robinson Center celebrates 10 years in Northeast Neighborhood

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Robinson Community Learning Center

The University of Notre Dame is celebrating a decade of innovative community collaboration with the 10-year anniversary of the Robinson Community Learning Center.

The center will observe the anniversary with a celebration from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 (Friday) in the center. Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., University president; President-emeritus Rev. Edward A. “Monk” Malloy, C.S.C.; and U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) will be on hand for the event. Annually, the celebration includes the presentation of awards to community leaders and Notre Dame faculty, staff and students whose volunteerism contributes to the center’s vitality.

“The Robinson Community Learning Center has been a bright light in the community for a decade, and Notre Dame remains committed to the educational opportunities offered there,” Father Jenkins said. “I’m confident the next 10 years will continue the momentum for the center’s students and their families.”
Since February 2001, the University-sponsored center has provided a gathering point for members of South Bend’s Northeast Neighborhood. Some 500 residents a month of all ages enjoy programs including after-school tutoring, adult learning and wellness activities.

The facility and its staff have served as an anchor during a period of dramatic revitalization, including the development of Eddy Street Commons and Innovation Park. Plans by the Northeast Neighborhood Revitalization Organization (NNRO) to develop housing in the “triangle” between Eddy Street Commons and State Road 23 will transform the landscape again in the coming years with low and moderately-priced single-family homes. The cooperative spirit of the City of South Bend, NNRO and the University recently was recognized by the National League of Cities, which presented its Gold Award for community partnership excellence.

RCLC’s role in community-based learning, including the Take Ten program, was a key factor in Notre Dame’s recent selection as a 2010 Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement, which recognizes “the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities…for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”

The RCLC is home to Take Ten, a school-based violence prevention program that reaches more than 8,000 students a year in 16 schools, the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, all Boys and Girls Club sites, and community centers. The anniversary celebration will acknowledge school leaders who have supported Take Ten.

The RCLC’s commitment to improved educational opportunities for local children has given rise to a variety of other programs. In addition to after-school tutoring, the center has fostered award-winning programs on the local, state and national levels in a youth Shakespeare troupe, a Lego Robots team and a high school business development and entrepreneurship program. An estimated 300 Notre Dame students engage in RCLC programming each year; of these, 100 students work weekly in after-school tutoring.

The RCLC was initiated under former President Rev. Edward A. “Monk” Malloy, C.S.C., as a means of building relationships of trust between neighborhood residents and the University. Relationships, informed by the University’s Catholic character and shaped by the principles of humility, faith and hope, contribute significantly to the center’s unique success, according to a 2006 study of its effectiveness by Peter M. Miller, Madison professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin.

“It’s apparent the RCLC partnership process has avoided the common hierarchical pitfalls that plague other town-gown collaborations and effectively develop into a horizontal relationship that is rooted in humility, faith in Neighborhood capacity, and hope for the future,” Miller wrote.

Contact: Jennifer Knapp Beudert, RCLC manager, 574-631-2686,