Our Story

The 3 Mile Project opened its doors in November of 2010 and exists for the purpose of providing a safe and loving place where young people can be encouraged in their physical, emotional, and spiritual development. Envisioned as an exciting and positive setting where students can invest time and build community, the founders of the 3 Mile Project set out to create an environment in which they could reflect God’s love without their visitors feeling pressured or intimidated. The result is a 34,000 square foot former warehouse that now contains sports courts, theaters, a skate park, a reball arena, video games, table games, and a cafe.

Many young people struggle with feelings of anger, isolation, loneliness, and hopelessness. It is our desire, by being consistently available and by building authentic relationships with the students who come through our doors, to earn the right to be heard and to invest in their lives. We believe that we are called to rise above the challenges of a broken world and point our visitors to a way of life that leads to meaning, purpose, hope, and joy.


How it Works

We are open on different evenings for different age groups, based on the time of the year. We do this for three separate reasons. First, we believe that segmenting students by grade provides an age-appropriate environment. Second, because our activities tend to be physically oriented, we level the playing field by narrowing the age range of the young people in our facility. Finally, we can control attendance by limiting the ages that we admit on any particular evening.

All visitors to the 3 Mile Project must complete a one-time registration at the time of their first visit. Registered visitors will receive a membership card which will provide them access to our facility. Our registration form can be printed from this site by clicking on our student registration link.

Because it is our goal to provide an environment where young people can feel safe and respected, we expect our visitors to treat others in the way that they themselves expect to be treated. We do not tolerate fighting, bullying, theft, crude language, inappropriate clothing, or physical displays of affection. We do not admit students who appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Our facility is under video surveillance while students are in attendance, and our security system records so that we can review incidents when necessary. Although we cannot lock students into our facility, we do not allow students to re-enter once they leave our building.


How to Help

GIVE

We maintain an artificially low admission fee so that entry is affordable for the vast majority of young people in our community. The modest revenue we generate from these admission fees, along with café sales and the rental of our facility, make up 60% of our annual budget. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, we rely upon public support to provide the remaining 40% of our budget. If you’d like to join others from across West Michigan who believe that it is vital to provide a safe and inexpensive place where students can be loved and encouraged, please click on the link below to make a contribution. You can also contact us to explore other ways to support our efforts on behalf of the young people of our community.

Make A One-Time Tax-Deductable Donation
Monthly Donation

SERVE

The majority of our staff during our open hours is made up of volunteers from throughout our community who generously give of their time to invest in the lives of young people. Our volunteers play an important role in our ability to maintain a low admission fee and without them we cannot open our doors. They serve according to their own schedules and choose the tasks they wish to fill based on their own particular interests and expertise. We utilize a thorough screening process to qualify potential volunteers, including a criminal background check. If you’re interested in building positive relationships with young people searching for quality role models or if you’d like to play a support role in making what we do possible, please click on our volunteer registration link to complete your application online. In order to serve we require that any applicant be at least a freshman in high school.


FAQ

Why is your admission based on grade level?

There are three primary reasons why we are open on different nights for different grade levels.

  1. We believe that by limiting the ages of students in our facility we can provide a safer environment for our visitors – especially our younger students
  2. Since we offer a number of physical activities for students to participate in, we find that we can level the playing field by narrowing the age range of young people in our facility.
  3. Limiting the ages we admit on any particular evening allows us to control attendance.

Do you make exceptions to your admission policy?

No

When do you change a student's grade level?

It is our policy to change the grade levels of our visitors beginning with the first weekend after school ends in the spring. For 2016, this means that we will advance all students in our system one grade beginning with the week of June 13. For example, current 6th graders will be advanced to 7th grade and will only be admitted on Wednesday evenings beginning that week.

Students who complete the 4th grade in the spring will be considered 5th graders when school ends and will be allowed to begin visiting our facility on the first Thursday after school ends (June 16 in 2016).

Because we suspend our Saturday evening hours for high school students in the summer and because we want to continue spending time with our former 8th grade students, we will allow these students to continue to visit throughout the summer during our Wednesday evening 7th & 8th grade night.

Our summer admission policy looks like this, beginning with the first week after school ends in the spring (June 13 in 2016):

  • Wednesday evenings, 6-9 p.m.: students who will be entering 7th, 8th, and 9th grades in the fall
  • Thursday evenings, 6-9 p.m.: students who will be entering 5th and 6th grades in the fall

Can you accommodate birthday parties during your open hours?

Because our facility is designed to be open and to provide clear lines of sight, we do not have separate areas where we can hold small group gatherings during our open hours. As a result, we are not able to provide areas for individual gatherings.

Do you rent your facility?

We do! Please contact us at (616) 784-8433 for details. You can also view our facility rental form here.

Who are your volunteers?

Our volunteers come from all walks of life and include grandparents, retirees, parents, college students, high school students, and people from the community who are willing to give of their time to provide a safe and positive place for young people to invest their time. All of our volunteers complete an application and must pass a criminal background check. We could not function if we had to pay all of the staff that we have in attendance during our open hours. Our volunteers are one of the things that make it possible for us to charge an artificially low admission fee of $5. If you’d like to become a 3 Mile Project volunteer, you can click here to fill out our online application.

Can parents stay while their students are in attendance?

For the safety of our visitors it is our policy to not allow any adults into our facility who have not completed our volunteer application process and who have not passed a criminal background check. As a result, parents are not admitted into our facility unless they are one of our registered volunteers. However, we strongly encourage parents to volunteer. You can click here to fill out our online application.

What is your dress code?

Although we expect our visitors to dress in a way that is modest and inoffensive, we have no interest in spending our time measuring the length of shorts or the width of tank top straps. Our policy is simple: We do not want to see our visitors’ bare bellies, backs, breasts, or buns. If a student attempts to enter in clothing that we deem inappropriate, we will ask them to return in more appropriate clothing or we will offer them something to wear from our lost and found.

What are your behavioral expectations?

Our behavioral standard is simple. We expect young people to treat each other in the way that they themselves wish to be treated. This means that we have no tolerance for verbal abuse, physical abuse, bullying, intimidation, fighting, theft, or physical displays of affection. We also, of course, do not allow students to enter the facility who are in possession of dangerous items or who appear to be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.

Although we can’t be a part of every interaction or conversation that occurs in our facility, we encourage students to inform us of actions that make them uncomfortable. We also monitor 24 security cameras throughout our facility in an effort to maintain a positive environment. These cameras record, allowing us the opportunity to review incidents that we may not witness in person.

Although we reserve the right to respond to violations of our behavioral expectations based on the individual incident, we have a zero tolerance policy for fighting or theft. Visitors who engage in these behaviors will be removed from our facility and will be banned from future attendance for a period of time as determined by our staff.

What is your church/denominational affiliation?

Although we are a Christian organization, by design we have no particular church or denominational affiliation.  If you’re curious about what we believe, please click here.