Children’s Institute Hosts Groundbreaking Ceremony for $20-Million Watts Campus

Children’s Institute CEO and President, Martine Singer, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas at the Groundbreaking Ceremony. Photo by Aurelia Ventura / Board of Supervisors

On a crisp, beautiful January afternoon, the Children’s Institute (CII) hosted Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, local civic and community leaders, special guests, and community members at an official groundbreaking ceremony to kick-off construction of its 20,000 square foot Watts campus. Through this site, the Institute hopes to double the number of children and families served in South Los Angeles to 24,000 by 2028.

This comes almost a decade after the Board of Supervisors approved two motions by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas to grant a long-term, no-cost property lease to Children’s Institute— “I am thrilled to celebrate this partnership between the County of Los Angeles, Children’s Institute, Frank Gehry, and the community,” the Supervisor said. “It is my hope that this has helped Children’s Institute to focus its fundraising efforts on creating a state-of-the-art facility that is long overdue in this community.”

Designed pro bono by the architecture firm Gehry Partners, established by Walt Disney Hall architect Frank Gehry, the Children’s Institute’s new campus will house therapeutic programs and a variety of free services for children and families, including individual and group counseling, parenting workshops and Project Fatherhood sessions. “It’s our intent that the building will be comforting and welcoming. I hope this building will serve and inspire children and families for generations to come,” said Gehry.

The building will also be home to the Watts Gang Task Force, which has brokered peace in the community for nearly 15 years, along with the LAPD Community Safety Partnership, a nationally recognized model for relationship-based policing.

“The new campus is a permanent commitment to Watts and a critical resource for children and families. We are thrilled to break ground and invest in the future of this extraordinary community,” said Martine Singer, President & CEO of Children’s Institute.

Completion of the 20,000 square foot campus is expected in fall of 2021. Oltmans Construction Co. is the general contractor on the project. A short video about the new building can be viewed  here.

Founded in 1906, the Children’s Institute (CII) is the largest agency of its kind working to transform the lives of children exposed to adversity and poverty in Los Angeles. By providing early education, behavioral health, and family strengthening services, CII reaches 26,000 children and families annually in communities where support is needed the most. Learn more at childrensinstitute.