An area of Fresno that for decades was ignored received good news a few days ago: The dream to build a soccer field is close to becoming a reality thanks to a significant grant.
Saint Rest Community Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) has received a $100,000 grant to support the first phase of construction for a soccer field at southwest Fresno’s Saint Rest Baptist Church—near B Street and Church Avenue—a project that has been in the planning stage for several years.
Recently, the area has seen an increase in investments and new development.
Saint Rest Baptist Church formed the Saint Rest CEDC to address some of the issues affecting its surrounding community. The soccer field and multipurpose green space aim to provide a safe space for children living in the area to exercise and play. Currently an empty field, new turf will be installed as well as overhead lighting.
A project like this could cost close to $1 million. The donation from Wood Next Fund is the second gift toward the construction of the space. CalViva Health previously contributed funds to support the project.
“[The] Wood Next Fund is excited to provide catalytic support for this project,” said the Fund’s director, Nancy Chan. “We hope other funders will join us and co-invest in this much-needed outdoor space for physical activity and community gathering.”
In 2019, Saint Rest CEDC and Saint Rest Baptist Church opened Saint Rest Plaza on Elm Avenue, a space for farmers’ markets, performances and community activities. In recent years, the organization has constructed a playground and a youth center. The youth center served as a distance learning space for neighborhood children during the pandemic as many families do not have in-home Internet access.
“This generous gift serves as a greater gift to the greatest of our city, Southwest Fresno,” said Saint Rest Baptist Church Senior Pastor D.J. Criner.
“This seed gift of $100,000 will be planted in good soil and, in turn, will produce a soccer field harvest that will feed, motivate and stimulate growth so that our community can kick the soccer ball of hope and score the goal of community economic success.”
This is the second grant the Wood Next Fund has provided to a Central Valley nonprofit. Last month, it donated $180,000 to Next Generation Aviation Academy, an initiative focused on utilizing best practices and innovations to train the next generation of aviation professionals from communities of color and low-income neighborhoods in the San Joaquin Valley. Next Generation Aviation is also based in Southwest Fresno.