By LISA NAPOLI of The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Chronicle of Philanthropy
First-class recreation centers in low-income neighborhoods — dozens of them, scattered around the nation. That was the vision of Joan Kroc, billionaire philanthropist and heiress to the McDonald’s fortune of her husband, Ray. When she died in 2003, Joan Kroc stunned the Salvation Army when she left what amounted to $1.8 billion with instructions to carry out her wish for the centers. And today, 20 years later, 26 grand, state-of-the-art Kroc centers have opened in places as varied as Ashland, Ohio; Guayama, Puerto Rico; and Quincy, Illinois. Salvation Army officials say 1.2 million people belong to Kroc fitness centers, and over 3 million people annually are served through a wide variety of other programs, including job training, theatrical performances, and afterschool care.