Starfish Learning Center opened in February 1997 in the home of Jerry and April Bailey with two computers and one student who needed help with reading. Word of our after-school center spread quickly and by May, just three months later, enrollment had reached 60! Located in the "North of Howard" neighborhood of east Rogers Park in Chicago, Starfish caters to children exposed to gangs, drug activity, and crime on a daily basis. In addition to educational support services, we began to offer positive activities and programs some evenings and weekends to keep the kids off the streets.
Starfish moved to a larger facility in May 1997, where enrollment settled to a manageable 30, but the waiting list continued to grow.
As our program developed, more computers, learning and game software, and special programs, the children's grades began to improve as did their attitudes and behavior. Teachers at the neighborhood school began recommending other students to our center.
A park expansion project meant our building was slated for demolition so Starfish relocated to a smaller building in December 1998, but the center moved to its permanent home at 1543 W. Howard St. in 2004. Today, Starfish serves about 25 students through homework assistance, a computer lab, a children's library, games and contests, daily Bible study and prayer, educational outings, summer camp and trips, special events, performing arts workshops, and more.
Starfish is supported by individual donors and foundations. We appreciate your support; you can help us make a difference. The Starfish Clowns, a troupe of talented balloon-twisting clowns, also
help raise money for the center, and have appeared at Custer St. Fair, Celebrate Clark Street, and many other local events.