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Young adult organization, community center in Louisville receive $2.1 million in federal funding

A vacant Smoketown building (right) is planned to transform into a community center. The building is attached to a laundromat (left).
A vacant Smoketown building (right) is planned to transform into a community center. The building is attached to a laundromat (left).

The federal government has granted a combined more than $2 million to a Louisville nonprofit and a future community center.

John Yarmuth, a Democrat representing Kentucky’s 3rd congressional district, said at an event on Thursday that YouthBuild Louisville received $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to continue its work over the next two years.

YouthBuild Louisville works with low-income young adults by offering education, career training and leadership development. The Department of Labor previously awarded the group a grant in 2019.

Yarmuth also announced $600,000 for a Smoketown community center that YouthBuild Louisville and several other groups, including Simmons College and IDEAS xLab, are developing. He applied for its funding through the House Committee on Appropriations.

The center will occupy a vacant two-story building on the corner of Breckinridge and Hancock streets and will be attached to a laundromat.

“People can get counseling on how to start a business, can get other kinds of health care opportunities, and so forth, while they're waiting for their laundry to be done. It’s actually a brilliant concept,” Yarmuth said.

The president and CEO of YouthBuild Louisville, Lynn Rippy, said the vacant building will be renovated and expanded to host a community center. It’s scheduled to open by the end of next year, she said, and the laundromat her group has worked on is expected to open at the end of this month.

Rippy said there aren’t any community meeting spaces in Smoketown, and the building they’ll revitalize will provide students a place to go after school.

“It's important to us to provide open space for folks to use when they need it. And also for young people to be comfortable in and to have their own space in their community,” she said.

Kevonte Williams, a member of the city’s SummerWorks program which YouthBuild Louisville helps lead, said he hopes to see more spaces created to provide people with positive, healthy outlets.

He wants to see “more boxing gyms, more rec centers, more stuff that people can do besides just going to the streets.”

The $600,000 awarded for a Smoketown community center follows other recent investment in the neighborhood. In June the Louisville Community Foundation gifted a Smoketown lot valued at over $1 million for the development of a grocery co-op and community land trust.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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