Beyond the Rooftop: Pastor Corey Brooks' community center to bring trades, entrepreneurship to residents

A dream we've been following for a long time is finally materializing on the South Side.

On Monday, after months of camping on a rooftop perch, Pastor Corey Brooks saw construction crews start building his long-awaited new community center.

Chicago knows Brooks as "the Rooftop Pastor," and the whole reason he camped up there for months, even through cold weather, was to raise money to build the Robert R. McCormick Leadership and Economic Opportunity Center in Woodlawn.

Hundreds of campouts, and $30 million dollars later, construction is now off and running.

"It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders, but at the same time, I realize we still have a lot to do. Our goal is to build the center debt-free," said Brooks.

Once complete, the center will offer a safe place for kids to go after school, classes in the trades, like carpentry, HVAC, electrical, and automotive, entrepreneurship workshops, and many other amenities — a bank, three restaurants, an urgent care, two gyms, a music and arts theater, and a swimming pool.

"I'm extremely excited, and the neighborhood is really fired up as well," said Brooks.

Brooks has successfully raised $30 million in cash and pledges, but still has another $10 million to raise to meet his goal of building the center debt-free.