The Club at Collington Square is an after school and summer program currently serving 90 children in the Collington Square neighborhood of East Baltimore – with a waiting list of 40. Operating out of four connected rowhomes with colorful doors on Mura Street, Program Director Vanessa Williams is a specialist in urban education and understands how to develop children as learners and leaders. She has intentionally recruited and developed a staff of teachers and assistants, almost 100% of whom live in the neighborhood The Club serves.
After many years at the helm, this past spring, Episcopal Community Services of Maryland (ECSM) shifted its focus from directly operating their two community programs, The Ark, a pre-school in West Baltimore for children experiencing homelessness, and The Club at Collington Square. Committed to the sustainability of these programs that serve some of Baltimore’s most vulnerable children, ECSM worked to find like-minded organizations to take on operations. The Ark was absorbed as part of Saint Vincent De Paul’s Head Start program – and Strong City Baltimore assumed management of The Club at Collington Square starting October 1, 2017.
Strong City staff were impressed and moved by The Club, its staff and its commitment to providing a structured, loving haven in a very tough neighborhood. This is an essential program that Strong City is proud to operate – and in fact, is an important first step in engaging with the community around our future offices at The Hoen Building. The Club is Strong City’s first step in our commitment and efforts in supporting East Baltimore.
The Club’s dedicated staff provide a highly structured program between the hours of 3:15 and 6:30 of academics, enrichment, play and homework help. The Club also provides a snack and hot dinner cooked by the wonderful Chef in an on-site industrial kitchen. The program emphasizes student voice and leadership with intentional roles for older scholars to mentor and serve younger scholars, as well as serving on an elected Youth Board of The Club. Male scholars and staff also work with Mr. Munir Bahar’s COR (Committed, Organized, Responsible) leadership program and train in martial arts.