Starfish Learning Center

Starfish Learning Center Logo

Basic Information

Address: 1543 W. Howard St. Chicago, IL
Phone Number: 3122137897
Fax Number: 8888904893
Director: Susan Croox

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Starfish Learning Center
Starfish Learning Center
Starfish Learning Center
Starfish Learning Center

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Additional Information

Causes Served: educating and mentoring at-risk inner city youth with homework help after school
Background Check: Yes
Population Served: African American and Latino youth 1st grade through high school
Ages for Volunteer: 18+
Hours of Service: 3PM-6:30PM
Minimum Hours Required: 3.5/week
Days of Service: Monday through Friday
Mission Statement:

We educate, empower, and mentor at-risk youth in the areas of character development, academic proficiency, spiritual formation and social-emotional intelligence, empowering them to overcome and eliminate the limiting factors that lead to at-risk behavior and to secure a bright and promising future.

Philosophy/Belief Statement:

Starfish Learning Center is a Christian organization. We believe and teach the Bible as the Word of God.

Program History:

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.


In addition to several holiday parties throughout the year, Starfish hosts several field trips to education and recreational sites throughout the year. In the summer we typically take a retreat in Michigan.

Additional Information:

Starfish serves about 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 has been a fixture in the neighborhood for 17 years. Our program is something the youth can count on to provide a safe, loving environment after school. Starfish's impact on the children in our neighborhood is twofold: we focus on protecting our students during the crucial hours after school when a safe haven from the dangers and bad influences of the neighborhood is needed. At the same time, we work to mentor and teach our students moral principles and give them tools to equip them to lead productive, successful lives, with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty and violence so prevalent in the neighborhood.

Starfish believes that showing children the way to a personal relationship with Jesus is the most valuable thing we can give them. We create opportunities for encountering the Creator God through worship and the Word, during Bible studies at the center and multiple trips throughout the year to various churches and ministries. Education is a priority at Starfish, but sharing Jesus with our kids is at least as important.

The priority at Starfish is raising grades for every student. This is made possible through homework help largely provided by volunteers from local colleges, and supplemental curriculum tailored to each student's academic needs. Staff communicate with teachers and parents regarding problem areas, and track each student's progress through report cards. As most of our students do not have access to a home computer and/or a printer to do homework, we also have a computer lab for the kids to work on papers and projects as well as do research and complete assignments.

Starfish focuses on shaping our students' attitudes towards life and other people through daily Bible studies. Staff and volunteers teach the kids how to treat each other, how to react during adverse situations, and how to order their life for the best chance of success. Confronting the negative patterns of life demonstrated by family and peers, we strive to teach our students a better way, using the scripture and examples of Christians throughout history and figures from today's popular culture.

We believe that success for each of our students starts from within. Each one of them has a unique background and story, and they all have different needs. We are committed to training our staff to meet them all where they are, and to teach our kids how to understand and deal with the complex
emotions and relationships that they encounter every day.