Creative growth plans allow Wellspring’s youth development programs to stay in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood March 7, 2017

Wellspring tripled its size with the help of a facility loan from IFF three years ago. The nonprofit youth development center in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood had a long waiting list for its services, which include tutoring curriculums that consistently advance students 3 grade levels in math or reading skills per year. Now, this successful nonprofit is seeking to grow again – purchasing a neighboring building and three adjacent wooded lots that became available at a good price.

“We’re smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood, and we want to stay here as a friendly, safe, and comfortable place for the kids,” said Dan Bandrowski, Wellspring’s Co-Director. “But we’re also on a trajectory of growth, and we need somewhere to expand. When the place next door became available, it just seemed strategic for us to acquire it for program growth.”

After acquiring the properties, Wellspring approached IFF to create a strategic facilities plan – which was funded in part by a grant from the Skillman Foundation. IFF’s real estate team outlined both the necessary and ideal upgrades to meet the nonprofit’s mission-driven plans.

First, Wellspring plans to use the newly acquired building as housing for its volunteers and interns, who are crucial to its mission. “We have religious partners who would like to spend time here doing mission trips, adults who want to donate skilled labor, and interns who want an urban immersion experience. We always struggle for those folks to find housing and keep a sense of community with us and with each other. We envision this house could accommodate all that,” Bandrowski said.

An on-site low-ropes course – a challenging outdoor personal development and team building activity – as well as an exercise trail, outdoor classroom, and natural play area built on the adjacent wooded lots would complement Wellspring’s long history of adventure-based programming. “We use these experiences to foster confidence with the kids,” Bandrowski said. “We stretch them beyond their comfort level and then help them apply the overcoming of those challenges to other challenges in their lives.”

IFF’s strategic facilities plan, which included a detailed cost estimate, is helping Wellspring’s leadership to prioritize, phase, and fundraise for improvements, which will likely be accomplished through a combination of volunteer skilled labor, grant funding, and program income. Stay tuned.

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