In 1998, the University of Notre Dame purchased the building at 921 North Eddy St. (a former Goodwill site.) The President's Office soon enlisted Rev. Don McNeil, C.S.C., founder of Notre Dame's Center for Social Concerns to engage the community to explore how this space could be developed in a unique campus-community partnership. Fr. Don immediately called on Marguerite Taylor, the daughter of Renelda Robinson, a longtime Northeast Neighborhood resident and advocate. Ms. Taylor, key neighborhood leaders, and CSC staff engaged stakeholders in cooperative conversations to plan a neighborhood educational center. For three months, focus groups met with the resulting vision of a center with multi-generational educational programming, as well as a place that fostered relationship-building for the entire community.
The Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC) emerged from these collaborative efforts. Since opening in 2001, the Robinson Center - operated in partnership between Notre Dame and the local Northeast Neighborhood community - has helped connect the University and South Bend residents through education, the arts, civic engagement, and other lifelong learning initiatives that span the generations of participants.
Though Renelda Robinson passed away before the project was completed, the building was named in honor of her tireless commitment to the Northeast Neighborhood over multiple decades. Her legacy lives on through the Center's work to unite communities through education, partnerships, and hospitality.
After 15 years, it was clear that the RCLC had outgrown its original space. Once again, community members convened in conversation, and provided feedback that was used in planning the new Robinson Center, located across the street at 1004 North Eddy.
For more information about the History of the RCLC, please watch the video below and read Dr. Richard Pierce's article: "Building the Robinson Center: One Relationship at a Time."