Power Project


Photo credit: Jenna Porter

St. Francis Neighborhood Center (SFNC), in the Spring of 2009, established a free after school youth development program called The Power Project.

The Power Project consists of three major components: education, mentoring and the arts.  This program provides disadvantaged youth living below poverty in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood, ages 5 to 15, with the opportunity to receive academic enrichment, one-on-one tutoring, attend educational seminars and workshops, participate in our dance, art and music groups, and establish valuable relationships with caring and responsible individuals who will serve as positive role models in their lives.

The after school program is free and held at the Center Monday through Thursday from 3:00 to 6:15 pm during the school year with snacks and dinner provided. The program can accommodate on average, 50 children at a time.   

Eight years in, the Power Project is getting some nice results. Based on the children's grades, assessments, behavior, and our External Evaluation results, we report the following from the 2014-2015 academic year:

SFNC administers an in house academic at the beginning and end of each school year or summer program that measures their ELA and Math skills. These assessments are in line with Baltimore City Public Schools curriculum (K-12). Over half of the youth enrolled improved more than 10% on their in-house ELA and Math assessment score.  

Goal 1: School Report Cards

Goal 1: By the Fall of 2015, 70% of PP youth will increase their math and English Language Arts (ELA) report card grades by 20% and/or maintain good math and ELA report card grades (80% or higher)

  • 78% increased ELA grades
  • 69% increased math grades

Goal 2: Improve In-School Behavior:  By the Fall of 2015, 70% of Power Project youth will improve their behavior by declining occurrences of classroom removal, in-school detentions, suspensions, and expulsions.

Students’ behavior is ranked on a scale from 1(poor) to 5 (excellent).  The Center staff ranks the students daily; and the school teachers complete a quarterly behavior survey for each student.  Regular professional development/training is given to all staff on behavior management. The scale was originally developed by Center staff, and then updated by the External Evaluator.  We receive training on positive behavior reinforcement, behavior management, working with children with disabilities, all through partners such as Kennedy Krieger, Maryland Disability Law Center, Family League, and more.  Results:

  • 29% increased behavior score
  • 76% maintained  good or increased behavior score.


We had 9 parent workshops/family engagement nights in 2015 which included dinner donated by Whole Foods, and an educational speaker.  On average 90% of parents/guardians attended.  We feel this is due to increased communication, it is an enrollment requirement, and seeing improvement in their child.  In a survey, 100% of parents agreed that the Power Project is helping their child.

Income/Government Support/Family Survey (taken upon enrollment)

  • 100% of all children in the program are living below poverty.
  • 76% with 4 persons in the household have an income of less than $20k per year.
  • 100% received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps)
  • 100% of the students attend Title 1 Schools
  • 35% recently experienced or are homeless
  • 75% of our students have a behavioral or intellectual disability (ADHD, ADD, IEP, 504 Plan, etc.).

Edahkiah's Story

At St. Francis Neighborhood Center (SFNC), learning disabilities are the norm for our students. Over half of the students enrolled have an IEP or 504 Plan, are diagnosed with ADHD, or have a specific learning or intellectual disability. Many of our children do not have access to regular, balanced meals. In a typical day, children may arrive hungry, so we provide a snack during homework time and dinner. These challenges require staff to be patient, caring, and find creative ways to engage each child in a specific way that is meaningful for their progress. 

For example, when Edahkiah, first started with us, he was unable to interact verbally, or complete homework independently. With close, long-standing positive connections to family and his teachers at the Center, he was able to oversome severe communications challenges and improve his retention and math skills using math games in the computer lab.

His two brothers also attend the Center which gives him another layer of support. His Mom, Ms. Everel, has now joined the Board of Directors for the Center. Staff and volunteers consciously encourage him to speak for himself. With the care and support of his family, and that of the Center staff, we have watched Edahhiah grow more self-aware, confident, and expressive. Now he reads aloud, volunteers to run our community youth-led meetings at dinner, and is able to work independently and confidently on his homework. In fact, Edahkish was able to stand in front of over 200 people to share what he wants to be when he grows up! 

While Edahkiah is immersed at SFNC program activities, he is also being taught active listenting, leadership skills, character and emotional development, and nonviolent communication. In the later afternoon he attends one of several group enrichment classes focused on nutrition, education, self-esteem, fitness, the arts, and personal hygiene. 

Edahkiah continue to develop his Power Plan, and individualized plan of action with various short and long term goals. He says that he wants to follow in the footsteps of his mentor and become an attorney. He also loves vehicles and wants to own a transportation company. Eventually, he will share his ideas in a meeting with SFNC staff--and, also with his family during a home visit--his academic and social goals for reaching his Power Goal, an ultimate life goal. 

Although children attending the Center are not yet old enough to have graduated from high school, 100% of students have high school graduation as part of their Power Plan.

If you are interested in enrolling your child in this program, please contact the Youth Program Manager, at jchildress@stfranciscenter.org or call 410-669-2612.