Harris YMCA Unveils Plans to Build New Cato Education Center

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With the addition of the new education center, the Harris YMCA will increase its capacity to drive academic achievement and inspire children to reach their greatest potential.

Cato Education Center

Cato Education Center (proposed rendering)

We can expand our reach to include more children and families who could not typically afford quality enrichment programming.

One of the largest YMCA’s in North America, the Harris YMCA already serves more than 7,000 children annually. In a special presentation at its annual Better Together Celebration on March 17, the Y announced plans to serve even more children with the addition of the Cato Education Center and Sara Harris Bissell Pavilion.

Thanks to the generous contributions of the Cato Corporation and John Cato, John W. Harris Foundation, Salah Foundation and the Bissell, Carroll, Close, and Crigler families, the Y has raised $2.7 million of the $3 million needed for the new center. The rest will be raised in the community.

“Our Y has made a promise to our community’s children to nurture their God-given potential,” said Y Community Vice President Charmaine Gudgeon. “With the addition of this new education center, we will increase our capacity to serve children of all ages, and we can expand our reach to include more children and families who could not typically afford quality enrichment programming.”

Currently, one in five children participates in programs at the Harris YMCA with the help of scholarships. YMCA leaders believe that the new facility will provide an inspiring, age-appropriate learning environment that reflects the quality and vibrancy of its youth programs.

The Cato Education Center will have 10 classrooms and include the Sara Harris Bissell Pavilion with an open-air gymnasium and stage. Thousands of children will use the space for learning, character development activities and fun in the Y’s preschool, after-school and day camp programs.

The Y hopes to break ground on the new facility this fall and finish construction before the summer of 2015.

The Harris YMCA is a branch of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte.


About the YMCA of Greater Charlotte
The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The YMCA of Greater Charlotte, comprised of 19 membership locations and two resident camps, engages approximately 274,000 men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Deeply rooted in the community for 140 years, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. http://www.ymcacharlotte.org

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Molly Thompson

Joannah Roseman
Harris YMCA
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