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State Employees Credit Union commits $1.5 million to new Partners in Learning center

SALISBURY — With an assist from State Employees Credit Union, Partners in Learning on Monday took another major step toward funding its new center.

The State Employees Credit Union Foundation presented the local nonprofit with a “challenge grant” representing a $1.5 million commitment to the nonprofit’s new center. The funding was presented to Partners in Learning staff at the SECU Salisbury branch on Mooresville Road.

The foundation is owned by SECU and makes contributions to charitable projects such as the new center. It is funded by member account fees.

Partners in Learning has two centers — one on the campus of Catawba College and a second near Novant Rowan Medical Center. The nonprofit has outgrown its Catawba facility and the college needs the building. So, the nonprofit it started exploring options for a new facility. In June 2020, the project started to take shape when Gerry and Brenda Wood donated an 8-acre parcel off of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

The SECU grant specifically will support the construction of the clinical services facility at the nonprofit’s new center. Partners in Learning plans to offer clinical services to students, including applied behavioral analysis therapy. The therapy technique is an important treatment for people with autism, but currently there is no clinic in Rowan County that provides the service.

“The services have not caught up with the need,” said Partners in Learning Executive Director Norma Honeycutt.

The part of the facility providing the services will be called SECU Family Development and Clinical Services.

“We fund, in the areas of education, housing, health care, human services,” said Jama Campbell, executive director of the SECU Foundation. “This project really hits almost every area of funding of ours. We look for partners state wide that have the ability to provide large scale projects.”

While the check can be counted toward Partners in Learning’s fundraising goal for its center, the $1.5 million is dependent on the nonprofit collecting the remaining funding for the project. The current goal for the project is $8 million, and the check placed it at about 63% of its goal. Honeycutt said the cost of the project could increase because of current construction costs and the possibility of adding classrooms.

“We’ve identified some additional needs, especially now that we have a wait list of 400 children,” Honeycutt said.

Honeycutt is confident the project will get the financial support it needs. Fundraising is already well ahead of schedule, and Partners in Learning will begin its public capital campaign in early October. Honeycutt said some donors have called to ask how to give.

“I knew from the start this would happen,” Honeycutt said. “I had no doubt, I know it will happen, it will happen at the level that we need it and it is going to be the best place ever.”

Partners in Learning board chair Celia Jarrett said the outpouring of support from the community has allowed the nonprofit to dream bigger.

“We have known that we were going to have to grow,” Jarrett said.

The nonprofit provides affordable, and sometimes free, child care to families in addition to other family services. More than 40% of the students have special needs and the students share classrooms, whether they have special needs or not.

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