The former site of Prestige Academy in Wilmington’s Riverside’s neighborhood is now playing host to a new center for teens, offering a slew of programs and activities.
The building at 12th and Thatcher Street will be known as The Warehouse when it opens in September, providing hundreds of neighborhood teen a variety of after-school athletic, academic and artistic programs in a safe environment.
The new center was formally introduced to the community on Wednesday, with hundreds of local residents, Mayor Mike Purzycki, County Executive Matt Meyer and Delaware’s own Olympian Anthuan Maybank on hand to celebrate.
Kingswood Community Center executive director Logan Herring, who helped spearhead the Warehouse’s creation, said the center would fill a vital role in the neighborhood. “We are going to work together as a community to make sure teens have everything they need – the resources they deserve to succeed,” he said.
Herring says the Warehouse will have five core pillars of activity: recreation, education, academics, career and health. “Our goal is to provide a one-stop shop for the programs, services, hope, support and guidance our teens need to thrive and become confident, competent and courageous young adults,” he said.
Unlike a traditional community center, The Warehouse will employ a collaborative teen engagement structure involving a network of youth-serving nonprofits that will operate within the Warehouse framework and deliver programs under a shared roof.
More than 50 organizations have been working over the past year and have signed on to provide services ranging from yoga and dance to mental health support, tutoring, music, job training and college readiness.
This comprehensive approach has Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki excited about the potential of The Warehouse. “When I look at this project, it’s the greatest opportunity I’ve seen in our city of late. It’s such an aspirational project – reflecting the aspirations we have for our kids and a better life” he said.
Strive, an organization dedicated to building character-driven leadership skills in young people, is one of the core partner organizations in The Warehouse. “Our entire Strive organization gets out of bed each morning because of the tremendous potential we see in Wilmington’s teens,” said Andrea Valentine, executive director of Strive.
“We signed on early to The Warehouse project not just because of the peer collaboration opportunities and operational economies of scale, but because we see The Warehouse as an ideal training ground for young leaders. We are already inspired by the work we’ve been doing with the teens as part of the Fall Fellowship and hope they see The Warehouse as their own sanctuary, supported by teams of adults and a city who are them for them – today and well into their futures.”
Capitol One, which owns the property, has donated the space to REACH Riverside, which will manage The Warehouse. REACH stands for Redevelopment (mixed-income housing) Education (cradle to college pipeline), And Community Health.
County Executive Matt Meyer reminded the crowd that he used to teach middle school math at Prestige Academy. “The greatest fear for any middle school teacher is that one day the kids will take over the building. And now here we are. The teens have finally taken over the building!” he joked.
Meyer remembered and was inspired to share the school’s creed that was posted on the wall at the entrance of the school – something the students recited every morning before the start of their day.