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Brightmoor's Wellspring youth development center to triple in size after securing $400K in funding

Dan Bandrowski of Wellspring

The Wellspring Kumon Center in Brightmoor

Wellspring Kumon groundbreaking

The Kumon math and English academic programming offered by Wellspring is so popular that it serves 100 to 125 students a year with another 100 on a waiting list. Now, with the help of a number of organizations, Wellspring has raised the $400,000 necessary to expand their building and begin construction of an addition to the back of the structure. Once complete, the neighborhood center will have the capacity to serve 300 children a year.

The Wellspring Center is located in an old house at 16742 Lamphere in Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood. In addition to faith-based youth development programming, the center offers Kumon courses, an after school tutoring program. Kumon is a Japanese-based corporation with many franchises throughout the United States.

While the for-profit Kumon franchises are typically in middle- to upper-class neighborhoods, Wellspring runs its program as a nonprofit -- one of only a few in the United States to do so. Through grants and fundraising efforts, Wellspring is able to subsidize tuition for students coming from low-income backgrounds. Roughly 50 percent of students are from the Brightmoor neighborhood, according to the nonprofit.

Dan Bandrowski founded Wellspring with his wife Cherie in 1986. They moved operations to 16742 Lamphere in 1988, and by 1992 they were incorporated as a nonprofit. As demand for their academic services began to outpace their capacity, the Wellspring board weighed its options. Board members were determined to keep the center in Brightmoor, and they eventually decided to build onto the house rather than search for a new facility. After a recent company directive from Kumon saying that franchises had to operate out of traditional business-like facilities, the Bandrowskis appealed to the president of the corporation, seeking and receiving permission to remain on Lamphere Street.

"We kept the house because we wanted to demonstrate our commitment to place," says Dan Bandrowski. "We're a place-oriented organization and the neighborhood looks at us as a community institution. We also liked the idea that we're in the neighborhood, in a residential area, in a home-like setting for the kids."

Construction of the expansion should be complete in three to four months, says Dan, and will result in a facility that is three times its previous size, increasing from 1,834 sq. ft. to 5,719 sq. ft. Detroit architecture firm Hamilton Anderson Associates designed the addition. A Wellspring-led capital campaign raised $70,000 for the project while IFF made a community investment loan of $60,000. The nonprofit received grants of $150,000, $100,000, and $20,000 from the Carls, Kresge, and Skillman foundations respectively.

Source: Dan Bandrowski, co-founder of Wellspring
Writer: MJ Galbraith

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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