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Robinson Learning Center receives HUD grant

Michael Chambliss | Wednesday, December 3, 2003

The Community Outreach Partnership Center branch of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded South Bend’s Robinson Community Learning Center with a $398,097 grant. For the last two years, the Robinson Community Learning Center, which is sponsored by the University, has provided educational and recreational services to South Bend’s Northwest Neighborhood.According to director Jay Caponigro, the grant will enable the center to expand its activities in the areas of youth mentoring, job training and preparation and lead poisoning prevention.”In the youth mentoring initiative, we will utilize violence prevention training, educational tutoring and recreational opportunities to help at-risk children. The job-training component will target high school dropouts, ages 16 to 24, and help them acquire the skills to get decent jobs,” Caponigro said. “There are a lot of positions in this area that pay well, and it is a matter of enabling people to get the hard and soft skills that they need.”The lead poisoning prevention project will seek to educate people as to the potential locations of dangerous lead materials in their homes in order to ensure that children will not ingest the toxic substance. “Lead poisoning usually affects children in older homes, where the paint and other building materials contain lead,” said Caponigro. The center will undertake each of the initiatives in collaboration with other groups and organizations. “We have a lot of great partners. Goodwill Industries, the chemistry department, Memorial Hospital, the athletic department, Rec Sports, the Center for Social Concerns and others are all very helpful,” said Caponigro.Many Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students are active volunteers for the RCLC. Meredith Mechenbier, a Notre Dame junior and regular volunteer, is enthusiastic about the grant. “Although the money is not here yet, it is clear that there will be a lot of new opportunities, at least for the people that are here on a regular basis