The passion and focus of the Strawberry Mansion Learning Center is our youth and the community in which we serve, and where we inspire, communicate, and educate.
My mother always encouraged me to be the change I wished to see in the world. She told me that I had to make a difference in a community that was failing our youth; a community plagued with gun violence, poverty, and low literacy rates. We eventually had the idea of turning our family-owned bar into a learning center for local kids and teens. Unfortunately my mother did not live to see the vision realized, but others would. In 2008, The Strawberry Mansion Learning Center was born.
Kevin Upshur started the nonprofit in 2008 when he transformed the corner building he inherited from his mother—formerly a bar for 40 years—into a neighborhood education and resource center. What was once a dingy taproom—a drain on the community’s vitality and near-empty pockets—now serves up support, mentorship and a different kind of spirit. The corner brick building, peeling with manila paint, is an afterschool safe-haven for kids who might otherwise go home to an empty house or neglectful parents—which, inevitably, often leads to street mischief and juvenile crime. The center is much more than a place to do homework: it is a harbor light for young minds adrift in a community lackluster in motivation and positivity. In other words, “some hope,” says Upshur, “a roadmap to wherever you want to go.”
The mission of Strawberry Mansion Learning Center is:
- To provide a safe haven for local students to learn and grow.
- To provide structured programs designed to promote positive growth and development.
- To provide educational services to enhance students’ academic success.
- To provide students with opportunities to travel and explore the world beyond their neighborhood
- To provide mentors to act as positive examples and role models for students
- To encourage reading and literacy at all ages
- To provide technology services to students and the local community
- To educate the local community on nutrition, healthy lifestyles, and the culinary arts
- To promote computer literacy for all ages, including seniors
- To educate students on the past, present, and future African-American history and their local community