ELKHART — It was a full day of celebration for The Elkhart County Crossing School of Business & Entrepreneurship on Friday as the group officially opened its new corporate offices in Elkhart and received a grant for its Entrepreneurial Training Center in Goshen.

Crossing leaders, joined by county officials and stakeholders, cut the ribbon to formally open the new corporate offices in downtown Elkhart, 515 S. Main St., on Friday afternoon.

The Crossing School of Business & Entrepreneurship was founded in Elkhart County in 2003 with the mission to empower struggling students to become contributing members of their communities through academics, job training and faith-based character education, according to the group’s mission.

“I had the opportunity to serve as a public school administrator for about 23 years and by interaction with students daily, we recognized that all students were not successful in a traditional school model,” Crossing CEO and founder Rob Staley said of the program’s inception. “So we created a model by brainstorming with some of our former students who were not successful and they started giving us ideas on what a real school would look like for them.”

Speaking on the group’s overall impact, Staley said the program isn’t about school, it’s about life. Students come from many different educational backgrounds and many have struggled with poor grades, attendance, social conflicts or behavioral issues

“We have students who are really struggling from homeless kids to those who are incarcerated or coming out of incarceration,” he said. “We believe that through the transformation of the heart, we can change the behavior and God can do many great things here and he has proven to do that.”

The corporate facility in Elkhart will serve as a headquarters for the program's chief operating officer, chief financial officers and other administration officials. It will also open doors to collaboration with local businesses and organizations along with the opportunity to participate in beautifying Elkhart, officials said.

To date, the Crossing has 21 locations across the state, including a program at the Elkhart Jail, with the main campus that leads the way in innovation and entrepreneurship in Goshen.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, The Crossing also received a $100,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County for renovations and improvements to its Entrepreneurial Training Center in Goshen.

The ETC is partnering with six Elkhart County schools at Baugo, Concord, Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury and Fairfield school districts to provide services to struggling students. The center houses four student-run microbusinesses and one work team. Students are learning their full potential through the relationships with staff and hands-on learning, officials said.

In total, The Crossing serves 150 students in Elkhart County, Staley said.

“We are grateful for the support of the Elkhart County communities over the years and will continue to work towards giving back to the community while achieving our mission,” Staley said. “The successes of our students drive us to continue to improve and grow in all we do, and through the support of the community we are able to continue to empower struggling students.”

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