About SMLC

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.”

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Mission Statement

The mission of Strawberry Mansion Learning Center is:

  1. To provide a safe haven for local students to learn and grow.
  2. To provide structured programs designed to promote positive growth and development.
  3. To provide educational services to enhance students’ academic success.
  4. To provide students with opportunities to travel and explore the world beyond their neighborhood
  5. To provide mentors to act as positive examples and role models for students
  6. To encourage reading and literacy at all ages
  7. To provide technology services to students and the local community
  8. To educate the local community on nutrition, healthy lifestyles, and the culinary arts
  9. To promote computer literacy for all ages, including seniors
  10. To educate students on the past, present, and future African-American history and their local community

Strawberry Mansion Community Learning Center Board Members

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Kevin Upshur

Chairman, Founder, Director – Kevin has worked with young people for many years and has always had a vision to encourage people in his community to read. He is a graduate of Strawberry Mansion High school, and later on attended Cheyney University.

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Ayesha Upshur

Policy and Outreach – Ayesha is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy. In the past she has clerked for the DC Superior Court, and has been a fellow of the Philadelphia City Council since 2012.

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Matt Hillman

Treasurer – Matt Hillman (26) is originally from Orlando, Florida, where he graduated from Freedom High School. Upon graduation, he matriculated to Florida A&M University where he graduated with honors while earning a B.S. degree in Economics.

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Wayne Tomlin

Wayne Tomlin, Board Member – Wayne has been a resident of the Strawberry Mansion Community for over 50 years. He’s also an alumni of the L.P. Hill School and Strawberry Mansion Jr/Sr High School. He worked in Social Services for over 20 years after receiving his certification from Union 1199C in 1994.

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Eric Yuan

Secretary Eric is a student at the University of Pennsylvania. He is studying neuroscience, and plans to attend medical school after graduation. Eric has been working with the Strawberry Mansion Learning Center for nearly a year.

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Eric Rahman Lawton

Board Member – Eric was born and raised in the Strawberry Mansion community of Philadelphia. His family purchased their home in 1936 after moving from New York. Educated in the Philadelphia School System, he attended Strawberry Mansion Jr/Sr High School

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