Sunrise Project receives grant for $39,500

The Sunrise Project was awarded a grant for $39,500 this week, more than half of the funds needed to renovate its portion of the former Sunrise Garden Center property, 1501 Learnard Ave.

The Kriz Charitable Fund awarded the grant specifically for the nonprofit project’s renovation costs, said Emily Hampton, the project’s executive director. The project — which will provide community and youth cooking and gardening programs — has been fundraising since early this year, and Hampton said such a large grant makes a huge impact.

“I think it gives the community hope that we are actually going to meet our goals and be able to move into the site sooner rather than later,” Hampton said. “From the community standpoint, it makes the fundraising goal less intimidating.”

The approximately $70,000 renovation will convert a former Sunrise building into classroom and kitchen spaces for the project’s programs.

“We’ll offer cooking and gardening classes and workshops that all center around food and the environment, for all ages but focusing mainly on youth,” Hampton said.

BIG NEWS! Sunrise Project has been awarded $39,500 for renovation costs from the Kriz Charitable Fund! Total renovation…

Posted by Sunrise Project on Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Sunrise Project is the umbrella organization for several existing programs, and the new site will centralize them. The existing programs — Healthy Sprouts, Food Rocket, Lawrence Fruit Tree Project and Summer of Service — are open to age groups ranging from preschool to adults.

The approximately 3-acre site is located in the Barker neighborhood, and has been vacant since the garden center closed in December of 2013. The Sunrise Project will be renovating the main building, built in 1926, that faces East 15th Street and used to serve as the retail space, Hampton said.

The project is one of several organizations preparing to locate on the former Sunrise property. Plans for the site also include a tofu processing facility, seed store and retail space for a company that cooks and delivers healthy food. Earlier this month, the City Commission approved the rezoning request that will allow for the facilities to operate at that location.

The Sunrise Project already operates community programs and after-school clubs at various locations, and LiveWell Lawrence awarded the project a $11,500 grant in November toward its operating expenses.

The Sunrise site is within walking distance to several schools, and Hampton said they plan to run an after-school program for students in elementary and middle school.

“It will serve as a drop-in site for youth in the neighborhood where we can plug them into productive curriculum focused on food and the environment,” she said.

Timelines for the Sunrise site depend on fundraising, and the project is holding a fundraising dinner Feb. 18. Details about the event are available on the project’s Facebook page.

Once the necessary funding is met, Hampton said the goal is to begin renovation work in early 2016, finish by late spring and begin operating programs on the new site by summer.