Bluecoats Downtown Canton Education Center Campaign

| |

Bluecoats Logo

Today Bluecoats and EN-RICH-MENT jointly announced the launch of a $1.75M capital campaign, and their plans to build an Education Center in Downtown Canton dedicated to the educational programs of EN-RICH-MENT. The building, which will occupy the space of the former Ziegler Tire building at Market Ave & 9th St, will be renovated and expanded to include music and dance rehearsal spaces, several classrooms and practice rooms, a sensory room for students with special needs, and offices and administrative space for EN-RICH-MENT.

Digital rendering of EN-RICH-MENT building.

Digital rendering of EN-RICH-MENT building.

Founded in 2012 by Betty Smith, EN-RICH-MENT provides free music and arts education to any student that signs up. Known throughout Stark County for its drumline, the organization also features dance, theater, music, and art programs – as well as important leadership and life skills classes, including cooking, gardening and nutrition. The program predominantly serves Black and Brown students and reaches hundreds of students from under-resourced communities each year. Until now, EN-RICH-MENT’s classes and programs have made do with limited space, often in locations that aren’t purpose built for such specialized programs as music ensemble rehearsals, dance, cooking, and private lessons.

Group photo of the Bluecoats and EN-RICH-MENT performers.

EN-RICH-MENT and The Bluecoats at Bluecoats Party in the Plaza in 2023.

For the last 18 months, the Bluecoats, EN-RICH-MENT and ArtsinStark organizations have, together, been exploring a variety of sites and options for this new project. It became clear that the recently vacated Ziegler Tire building at 901 Market Ave N in Canton was the perfect place following a site visit and a review of the plans for ArtsinStark Park. Together, the new park and EN-RICH-MENT Education Center will occupy the entire block of 9th Street, becoming a connector between Downtown Canton and the Cultural Center for the Arts and Civic Center campus. The project will be led by the Founder and Owner of Gervasi Vineyard, Ted Swaldo, who continues his longtime service at Bluecoats as Director Emeritus on the board of directors.

EN-RICH-MENT Executive Director Betty Smith had this to say, “This building and the Affiliation with Bluecoats is a blessing to EN-RICH-MENT and the youth we serve. This would not have happened without many years of our friendship and partnership with Bluecoats and the leadership of Ted Swaldo. Five years ago I prayed for a new facility that would house all of our programs, have one floor and lots of windows. God heard me and I’m grateful!”

EN-RICH-MENT snare drummer performing at Bluecoats Opening Night.

EN-RICH-MENT snare drummer performing at Bluecoats Opening Night.

EN-RICH-MENT danceline.

EN-RICH-MENT dance line at Bluecoats Party in the Plaza 202

Last month the Bluecoats and EN-RICH-MENT organizations announced that they had completed a strategic restructuring. The EN-RICH-MENT organization is now an affiliate of Bluecoats and has access to the infrastructure and resources that the Bluecoats organization has built during its fifty year history. The organizations now also share Affiliated Director seats on their respective boards, and Betty Smith is now on the Executive Team at Bluecoats, in her role as Executive Director, EN-RICH-MENT. Mike Scott CEO, Bluecoats and Genevieve Geisler CFO/COO, Bluecoats are now Principal Officers of EN-RICH-MENT.

“Our affiliation has made this capital project possible, and together the affiliation and the new building are the foundation of a new future for EN-RICH-MENT,” said Mike Scott, CEO of Bluecoats. “Our goal from the outset has been to ensure that the amazing life-changing programming that Betty and her team have built will last for generations. EN-RICH-MENT is a gem in the Canton community and this project ensures that this programming continues for many years to come.”

Fundraising for the project is underway, with several key foundations and companies making wonderfully generous commitments to the project. The goal of the campaign is to raise the $1.75 million necessary to pay for the building’s renovation as well as outfit the building with the furniture and supplies necessary to operate wonderful programming for these students.

Campaign chair Ted Swaldo said, “I know firsthand the value of music and arts education can have on these kids. I learned that from my time as the Executive Director of Bluecoats, and I see that here with what Betty is doing at EN-RICH-MENT. This building is going to change more lives than ever, and I’m confident that EN-RICH-MENT and Bluecoats will be able to use this new building to double the number of kids that come through the door.”

Posted by on Monday, November 13th, 2023. Filed under Current News, DCI World, FrontPage Feature.