Chapman University launched a new era of community education, outreach and service with the official opening of a new education center in downtown Santa Ana.

A crowd of students, faculty, staff, elected officials and community leaders cheered at the Thursday, March 3, ribbon-cutting. The event marked the transformation of the famed bookstore begun by Rueben Martínez into a facility where the College of Educational Studies will educate young and adult learners for the challenges of tomorrow. Called the Centro Comunitario de Educación, the center will offer programs for residents of all ages, partnering with local groups as well as schools and community colleges.

Chancellor Daniele Struppa said the new center bears witness to Chapman’s commitment to making a difference in the world locally and beyond.

“If we’re really looking for a better world, a world of better understanding for our children, we need to start with the children and the parents,” Struppa said. “This is what it’s all about. It’s a community center where people get together and learn together.”

Margaret Grogan, Ph.D., dean of the College of Educational Studies, said the new direction at the center opens boundless opportunities for furthering Martínez’s legacy, while making added connections throughout Santa Ana and the surrounding cities.

“Today we continue his work at this cultural education center, serving the Santa Ana community, as well as our chapman students,” Grogan said. “Thanks to generous gifts from our supporters, such as the Lloyd & Elizabeth Klein Family Foundation, we’re very excited to be forging new paths and new partnerships.”

The bookstore legacy will be honored with a large collection of books, but the center’s focus will be expanded programming aimed at transforming the lives of residents, from preschoolers to adults, said Anaida Colón-Muñiz, Ed.D., center director.

“The unfortunate fact is that brick-and-mortar bookstores have become very vulnerable because of Amazon and the ease of online purchasing,” said Colón-Muñiz. “And our aim, as the College of Educational Studies, is to promote education rather than sales. The idea has always been to have this become a real educational center for the community. We’ll still have plenty of books for everyone to read when they visit, of course – it just won’t be a store dependent on making a profit to stay open. We are writing grants and seeking other funding sources to assist with this endeavor.”

Top image/From left, Dean Margaret Grogan, Chancellor Daniele Struppa, and Anaida Colón-Muñiz, director of Centro Comunitario de Educación, join in the center’s ribbon-cutting.

The Centro Comunitario de Educación is at 216 N. Broadway in Santa Ana. To learn about upcoming events, visit the center’s website or call 714-973-7900. To help support the center’s work, visit its online giving page.