JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Mayor Lenny Curry and President of Edward Waters College, Nathaniel Glover, announced Wednesday that $8.4 million will be invested in Edward Waters College.

The money will go toward new dormitories and a new community football field.

"This place has to be a beacon of light for the community and for young people," Curry said.

Over the past couple of years, Curry said he has toured and gotten to see the strides that Edward Waters has been making on the campus and in the community. Investing this money in the college is sending a message that the city has seen the strides that Edward Waters has been making and that it wants to invest in its future.

President Glover said these improvements are for the students first and foremost.

However, the new field won't just benefit the school, though home football games will be played there, but also benefit the community.

The football field, which will be situated between the recently acquired James Weldon Johnson campus and the main campus, will have a track around it. President Glover said to have access to recreation facilities that will facilitate a healthy and safe environment in a Health Zone 1 area code, where health problems are very prevalent, is paramount.

The dormitories are a direct investment in the future of students enrolled at Edward Waters, but also an investment in Jacksonville's future.

As it stands, Edward Waters has two dormitory buildings and an honors dorm. Despite putting a significant amount of resources into the buildings, there are air conditioning and heating issues. Some students are having to bring their mattresses into the common areas to get air conditioning while they sleep.

These new dorms will house 175 students.

Nearly 95 percent of the students at Edward Waters are on financial aid, Glover said, and it is important to make sure they have the means to stay in college.

“When you look at keeping these students in school, keeping these students in college, it’s a payment now, payment later deal. If we invest in them now, they will end up being tax paying and revenue producing [adults] and serving this community," Glover said.

Mayor Curry said the new city budget will be going to city council on July 17 and the money proposed for Edward Waters is part of a portion of the budget called safe neighborhoods.

“We have to invest in our young people, they are the future of Jacksonville and that’s what we’re doing here today."

Glover said construction will begin within a year.