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History
Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center membersIn 1969, the City of Rock Island began convening groups in participation in a federal program called Model Cities. The task forces consisted of city and state officials along with community members to devise a comprehensive proposal that would significantly develop the community.
 
A portion of Rock Island’s plan was the construction of a facility to house and provide various programs and services to aid and enhance the community. The proposal was considered one of the two best in the multi-state region and $200,000 was awarded. A Neighborhood Facilities Grant provided $340,000 to cover the remaining construction costs, and Community Development Block Grant dollars were scheduled to aid in operational expenses.

Since 1975
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center opened March 22, 1975, as a new multipurpose center to serve as a centralized location for various social service programs and organizations. M.L. Lockhart was chosen for its first director, and the Center began to uphold its mission to promote opportunities for a diverse population through a variety of programs and services.

Community Programs
During the past 36 years, the Center has provided or housed various programs that have served the community including the following:
  • After-school programming
  • Computer skills training
  • Food cooperatives
  • Groups for aging adults
  • Legal assistance
  • Medical services
  • Public resource for meetings or events
  • Recreation
  • Special events and festivals
  • Summer youth programming
  • Volunteer activities
  • Workforce development
  • Youth drug prevention

Group Collaboration & Partnerships
Partnerships and collaborations have also occurred in this time with groups including Rock Island Parks and Recreations, the Rock Island School District, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Girl Scouts, the Metropolitan Youth Program, the Red Cross, Community Caring Conference, and numerous others. In addition, Center staff have been able to participate in various initiatives and boards to effect change in the community, schools, and neighborhoods. The Center has become an important body and catalyst for positive change in Rock Island and the Quad Cities.

Mission & Board Members
Currently, the Center operates under the direction of a 13 member Board of Directors appointed by the Mayor of Rock Island, with the Executive Director ensuring quality in all operations and programs. While remaining true to its mission, the Center now places special emphasis on aiding youth in the community.