Bringing the entire community together is the goal of the Raindrop Foundation’s Turquoise Center, also known as the Turkish Community Center. Now it’s expanding to give Brays Oaks area residents even more opportunities to engage with classes and programs.
Permits are in place and construction is scheduled to commence this month on The Raindrop Kids Academy, the tentative title for the ambitious $6 million addition to the Turquoise Community Center at 9301 W. Bellfort.
The new school building will be two stories tall with 27,000 square feet of indoor space. Aside from classrooms, the building will house a full-size gymnasium.
Orhan Osman, president of the American Turkic Business Council, said donors have contributed $2.5 million to the project and fund-raising is underway for the remaining costs.
“We believe the school belongs to the entire community – it is a true community school that is not for profit and open to anyone to attend, and we are having the community (members) purchase a brick as a way of raising funds,” Osman said. “So many people have found out about our center, and there is a lot of interest in helping us complete this school space.”
The goal is to open the new building by the fall of 2023.
After operating weekend schools to teach the Turkish language and culture, the center’s Saturday school will be open to all students in grades K-5 and will enroll 300 students.
A private day school, which began as an offshoot of a home-schooling program and involved only 8th grade students, will expand due to demand, adding a 7th grade class. The center hopes to eventually add a 6th grade class and enroll a total of 120 students, with annual tuition at $6,500.
The new building will also provide additional space for community leisure classes that have drawn widespread interest: Photography, dance and embroidery classes; cooking and art classes; music and instrument classes, and sports programs are offered, among many others.
“All of these classes are open to our neighbors and this building will be open to the public as well,” Osman said. “This includes the gym.”
Making the new facility available to the public reflects the center’s mission statement: “We strive to establish bridges between the Turkic and American cultures and communities by providing easily accessible educational, social, and cultural services. Services are provided with the intention of contributing to global peace at the grassroots level by sharing Turkic countries’ heritage of tolerance and understanding.”
The center, in conjunction with several partner agencies, will host a backpack and school supplies giveaway at a public event for all students 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13.
Information on programs, classes, and on their fundraiser can be found at the Raindrop Foundation’s website at https://www.
— by Arlene Nisson Lassin