CII’s Watts Campus Takes Shape

July 15, 2020
Ryan Imondi

Children’s Institute recently celebrated an exciting milestone in the construction of our new Frank Gehry-designed Watts campus: Topping Off, or placing the final beam on the building. To commemorate the occasion, a small group of staff and construction workers signed the beam before it was put in place.

CII broke ground on the site in January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck Los Angeles. However, the construction project has continued to move along on time and on budget.

Slated to open in 2021, the building will house critical therapeutic programs, parenting workshops and after-school activities that will serve children and families affected by poverty and intergenerational trauma. The space will also feature a new headquarters for the Watts Gang Task Force and the LAPD Community Safety Partnership.

CII’s President & CEO Martine Singer said that when the Watts campus opens, it will serve a community reeling from the long-lasting effects of the pandemic. A recent survey conducted with families in CII’s early education programs reported over 40 percent had either lost their job or had their hours reduced, and weekly earnings dropped to an average of $400 for a family of five. And the majority of families are in need of financial support to aid in paying for basics like rent, food, soap or utilities.

Adding social services to Watts

“This campus will serve many purposes as CII responds to immediate threats to the lives and well-being of families while also addressing bigger systemic issues that have made residents in this community incredibly vulnerable during this crisis,” Singer said.

Bridget Gless Keller, CII Trustee and Watts Building Committee Chair, has supported the Watts campus from its inception by enlisting friends and family to raise awareness for the project. She said the need for the new campus has only increased as a result of this national health crisis and it will be a central community hub when it opens.

“The ‘Topping Off’ is another significant milestone in the construction process,” Gless Keller said. “In these unprecedented times, the continued good work of the design and construction teams are bringing this vision to fruition.”

CII is currently in the final phase of the Capital Campaign for the Watts Campus. Click here to support the campaign.