The King-Kennedy Center is a multipurpose center created and partially funded by Kent State University students. Located approximately six miles from the Kent campus in McElrath Park, the center's various programs are designed to meet the needs of the underprivileged in the Portage County community.
The Center provides organized recreational programs for both the elderly and the young, promotes cultural awareness, enhances individual self-worth and encourages self-growth.
For example, the tutorial program encourages young children to enjoy reading. Other programs include a summer meal program (more than 120 children participated last year), sewing classes, Safety Town, basketball tournaments, AIDS awareness programming and a community discussion hour.
Many Kent State students have gained practical experience as volunteers for the various center programs. The center has served as a vital link between students and the surrounding community since its opening in 1978.
A Brief History of the King-Kennedy Center
In the early 1970s, the McElrath community in Ravenna was rated as one of the worst rural ghettos in the United States. The community did not have sewer systems available until 1974. This necessity became possible when a local church mortgaged its building to provide financial help.
During this period, a project to build a community center in the area was developed by Kent State students and spearheaded by the Kent State Greek system. Greek organizations worked with Black United Students, faculty and the community to raise funds for the center. Students worked with the McElrath Improvement Corporation and eventually saw the project become a reality in 1978.
Nowhere else in the United States have students created and funded this type of endeavor. The King-Kennedy Center remains one of the largest social service projects ever created by students.