Rock Island’s MLK Jr. Center receives grant to help area students

The non-profit received grant money from United Way’s United for Equity fund.
Rock Island's Martin Luther King Jr. Center receives funding from the United Way's United for...
Rock Island's Martin Luther King Jr. Center receives funding from the United Way's United for Equity grant.(KWQC TV6 News)
Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 5:00 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2021 at 2:14 PM CDT
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ROCK ISLAND, Ill (KWQC) - The Martin Luther King Jr. Center located in Rock Island, Illinois recently received a big boost in funding.

In February 2021, The United Way announced 25 local organizations would be awarded $275,000 in grants as part of the United for Equity fund to “help reduce and prevent racial inequities in education, income and health.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Center received one of the biggest grants, $25,000 from the fund. Jerry Jones, Martin Luther King Jr. Center Executive Director, says he was humbled and heartened. “I’m incredibly optimistic about the response, I’m optimistic because of the response we’ve seen in this community in regards to justice and equity in our community so I am very much looking forward to what the future is going to bring and our role in it.”

The Center will use the money for various projects, including its after-school program, summer day camp program, and a new Youth Services Manager position.

“We have advertised to bring on a youth services manager and I’m looking for someone that’s going to bring on a strong impact, a level of energy, a vision, and creativity that we haven’t seen before. So those dollars will be put in use in that position specifically very soon,” says Jones. “We are starting to plan for our summer day camp and after-school programs and we are leveling up our thinking in this regard. We have some strong investment from our community so let’s go ahead and think broader and be more ambitious and inspire greatness in our Quad Cities.”

Not only is Jones hoping to impact local students, but also to make a difference when it comes to racial inequalities in education.

“That’s really important because we are located in an area that has been disproportionably affected by disinvestment over a long period of time. And so of course, we want to help augment our already very excellent school system, but a system that’s burdened with quite a bit of work to do in order to keep our kids educated and in a position that they can compete as well as others in different situations. These dollars are going to help us be a better partner with school districts, but also help us broaden our vision to treat the whole child. We come from a truly holistic point of view because if we only come from one perspective, we’ll miss our opportunity to develop a person in their entirety.”

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