Impact Beloit groundbreaking connects college with community, businesses
Impact Beloit Fellows will start work with Sky Carp, Beloit International Film Festival, and the Merrill Community Center this fall.
Impact Beloit’s June 16 groundbreaking celebrated the strong bond between Beloit College, the city, and the community. And for three Beloit College students, it was a glimpse into their future.
Shakira Wilson’24 shook hands with people at the ceremony, excited to tell them about her future work at the Merrill Community Center in August.
“I am really excited to work with the Impact Beloit Fellowship,” Wilson said. “It will allow me to be in the community because I love Beloit. It will also help me expand my interest in my majors of dance and sociology and give me an idea of how life will be after college.”
Hundreds of people gathered Friday for the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $10 million renovation of the Col. Robert Morse Library, which will be the home of Impact Beloit, the college’s new community outreach and engagement hub.
With $9 million in funding from the state’s Neighborhood Investment Fund Grant Program, the project will deliver significant long-term community benefits. The college also has committed $1 million to supplement the state grant. The Impact Beloit community hub in the newly renovated library will open in the fall of 2024.
“Today we mark the beginning of a remarkable project that will redefine our college library, transforming it into a dynamic space that not only supports students’ learning journeys but also provides invaluable opportunities for the entire city-wide community,” Beloit College President-Elect Eric Boynton told the crowd of city, state, county and local community members gathered at the June 16 groundbreaking.
Boynton emphasized that in today’s world, knowledge is not confined to books, and college students need to experience and engage in the world, which they will find in Beloit College’s career readiness programs like Impact Beloit.
“We stand here today ready to embrace and amplify that kind of transformation. Our library, a repository (and some say a sanctuary) of wisdom and discovery, is undergoing a forward-thinking renovation-one that embraces the spirit of our time, meets our mission, empowers our students, and engages the local community so that we can learn from one another,” Boynton said.
The renovations will transform the college’s 1960s-era library with upgraded technology and modern, user-friendly spaces for learning, studying, collaborating, and socializing.
“Beloit College has always been known for our philosophy that learning is not an isolated endeavor but engages the world from the get-go,” said Boynton. “The college’s mission thrives when it collaborates with the surrounding community. Impact Beloit, in our revitalized library, is an ongoing invitation to our neighbors, friends, local organizations, businesses, and industries to collaborate in a city-wide effort to make the community stronger.”
Department of Administration Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld and Beloit City Council President and alum Regina Dunkin’96 praised the project for its innovative benefits to students, community, and economic development.
The city applied for the Neighborhood Investment Grant funds on behalf of the college to help renovate the library and build the Impact Beloit center.“This is going to be such a fantastic place that reaches into our community to serve all people, and we welcome that ongoing commitment to our city,” Dunkin said at the event.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is expected fall of 2024, but Beloit College Fellows Shakira Wilson, Nico Doret’24, and Matt O’Leary’23 will start their work this August. Doret will help out at Beloit International Film Festival and O’Leary will join Beloit Sky Carp baseball operations.
“I’m really looking forward to it because I’m a baseball player here at Beloit, and with my economics background, I’m hoping to combine those two to help the Sky Carp,” O’Leary said. “It’s a good stepping stone; I’m just trying to get my feet wet in the industry and see what else is out there.”