FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A ministry group focused on outreach announced Tuesday its commitment to revitalizing neighborhoods in southeast Fort Wayne.

Bridge of Grace Ministries says it is committed to four initiatives outlined in its “HOPE Unleashed” campaign. HOPE stands for housing, opportunity, progress, and education, to advance neighborhoods like Mount Vernon Park and Pettit-Rudisill.

“Chronic poverty is an issue our neighbors in southeast Fort Wayne are facing,” says Chuck Surack, HOPE Unleashed campaign co-chair. “Our community deserves a solution to looming opportunity gaps.” 

Specific efforts over the next two years include:

Housing renovations

  • According to U.S. census data, about 60% of residential properties in Mount Vernon Park are rentals. Bridge of Grace considers housing to be a tool that increases access to wealth and home equity for low-income residents in southeast Fort Wayne. The nonprofit says between 25-30 blighted homes will be purchased and renovated in target neighborhoods with the goal of creating a permanently affordable and community-owned housing stock.  

Opportunity and equity

  • Accessibility, proximity, and resources have become barriers to some residents in the community, the group says. To serve business owners and consumers, Bridge of Grace plans to purchase identified vacant commercial lots and establish a low-risk, multi-tenant incubator space and offer a community workspace to create a network of support. 

Progress

  • Bridge of Grace has planned a renovation of Brewer Park, including beautification and wellness features like playgrounds, sport courts, walking paths, and an art garden. Also included in the plans is a pavilion with restrooms and drinking fountains, which the group says will allow the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department to distribute summer meals to neighbors. 

Education

  • To support families, caregivers, and child care providers, Bridge of Grace plans to build an inclusive development center providing high-quality early care and education to more than 200 children and families. To demonstrate a commitment to the health and development of southeast Fort Wayne, Bridge of Grace says it is partnering with experts to build a mental health, physical care, and developmental clinic in the Mount Vernon Park neighborhood, where the nonprofit says there is currently a prevalent opportunity gap.

Bridge of Grace says it plans to break ground in September on the building complex that will house an early child care development center, comprehensive health clinic, Bridge of Grace offices, and a community workspace. The campus is expected to be completed in December 2023, the nonprofit says.

As of Tuesday’s announcement, the group says it has raised $10 million of the $15 million capital campaign goal.

“We envision a supported neighborhood where residents flourish because they have access to resources they need and opportunities they deserve,” said Javier Mondragon, Bridge of Grace Founder and CEO. “We believe it is imperative to create the momentum that will advance social equity and increase neighborhood sustainability.”