Gateshead-based Tolent Construction are expected to move onto site next to the Stadium of Light in the next week. Once completed, the Beacon of Light will fuse together sport, education, the world of work, health and well-being.
Chair of Trustees of the foundation, Sir Bob Murray CBE, said: "The Beacon of Light will be a first for the Foundation and for the region, so we’re thrilled to be moving on site and starting work this week.
"We are immensely grateful to our patrons, benefactors, sponsors and supporters for backing us. It has been heartening to work with so many likeminded people who share values, and who want to make a lasting difference to people in the northeast. Their vision and generosity will inspire many more people to learn more, do more and be more, and will change countless lives."
The cube-shaped development will be the first building of its kind in the country and house education and training facilities with an indoor football pitch above.
Foundation CEO Lesley Spuhler OBE said: "Working with a very talented design team from the north east including project managers Identity Consult and architects Faulkner Browns the construction programme has been cleverly developed in two phases.
"We are starting preliminary works as well as the substantive elements of the building now and will complete the programme when we have finalised the phase 2 funding.
"The Foundation has already raised a large proportion of the £18m build costs and we are confident we will secure the remaining £3m in the coming months."
Trustee Sir Tim Rice said: "The Beacon, like the Foundation, will be pioneering in its approach and aspirations, and this is why it has already captured the attention of so many people and institutions from sports governing bodies, to educationalists, politicians and the business community."
The Foundation of Light was established in 2001 and uses football to educate, inspire and motivate.