After School Program Benefits from Diversity of Treasures and Talents

Before Harambee Christian School set up shop in a converted laundromat on Cleveland Avenue in 1998, a small group of staff & volunteers came together every day to serve students in Urban Concern’s original After School Program. God multiplied the efforts of those serving in that program to expand into a high performing private school that today serves 130 students in grades K-8. Likewise, the original After School Program has grown to impart high quality academic enrichment, character growth, and engaging extra curriculars for up to 96 youth at Harambee Christian School, providing an essential service to our students, families, and community. The After School Program runs Monday – Friday from 3:30 – 5:30, a time when many at risk behaviors for students in low income neighborhoods can occur.

Our K-5 students currently meet under the wonderful leadership of Deb Casher and her trusty band of workers, Jordan Johnson, Erin Wahba, and Derek Evans, pictured from left to right.

The ASP Team

The ASP Team

The Talents

As with the original After School Program (ASP), extra curricular opportunities often vary based on the skills and talents of volunteers. Over the years the ASP has offered everything from Concert Band and Choir to Tae Kwan Do and French Lessons.

Creative Writing & Spoken Word Poetry

For the second consecutive year, middle school students are blessed to participate in Speak Life poetry & creative writing workshops led by Tifani Kendrick, former Manager of Youth Outreach at COSI and current Founder & Executive Director at D’Light House Family Center.

On sharing her gifts and talents with Harambee students, Tifani said, “Serving with Harambee is one of the highlights of my week. I encourage students to identify and share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences through creative writing & poetry. My goal is for them to see value in their own voices and understand the power of the words we speak and write. I hope students will gain confidence in their ability to inspire others.”

Tifani knows the importance of connecting students’ faith in God to their words and actions on a day to day basis: “I reinforce the scripture, ‘Life and death are in the power of the tongue.’ (Proverbs 18:21). I believe that every moment I have with them is a seed, just as our words are. I trust that our weekly interactions will one day bear righteous fruit.”

Ms. Tifani Kendrick and the aspiring poets of Harambee

Ms. Tifani Kendrick and the aspiring poets of Harambee

Students are forming an identity and becoming comfortable in their own skin during Speak Life workshops: “I love the community that we build here. We don’t judge each other here. If you have an idea, you are encouraged to share it, no matter what it is.”

Web & Graphic Design

For those more comfortable behind a computer screen than performing poetry in front of a crowd, long time Urban Concern volunteer and graphic designer, Paul Rehg, has partnered this year with fellow technology pros, Ben Gladwell & Rory Deken, to introduce students to the world of web design and coding.

Describing the trajectory of their time together, Paul said, “Most students start out on a website where they go through some very simple tutorials to learn the basics of HTML code. Some of them are building their own webpage, just writing raw computer code ‘from scratch’. The goal is to give the students a foundation of learning how to build web pages that would start them off on a career in the field.”

Ben had already been thinking of ways to help others enter the world of tech before Paul approached him about doing web club at Harambee: “I have felt incredibly fortunate to be part of the technology industry. It is often creative, flexible, and highly valued. I thought about trying to help others develop the skills and make the connections that make it easier to get into this field but never acted on the idea. When I heard that Paul was already doing it, I decided to try to help.”

Thanks to the collaboration between Paul, Ben, and Rory, more students are participating in web club at Harambee than ever before.

The Treasures

Our Amazing Community Foundation

Our Amazing Community Foundation

Certainly, the amazing work being done in the After School Program could not be done if not for the generosity of many donors and community partners. In addition to the generous long-term investment made by Xenos Christian Fellowship, Harambee and ASP students have been blessed by the partnership of local foundations who share a concern for our inner city youth and communities, including The Columbus Foundation and its supporting foundations, The Siemer Family Foundation & Ingram-White Castle Foundation, The Harry C. Moores Foundation and the ValMark Securities Global Gift Fund.

It takes a village to raise a child, and we are grateful for the many volunteers and community partners who help make the life changing work of the After School Program a daily reality for our students!

Are you interested in sharing your treasure or talent in the After School Program? Let’s talk! Email Michael at: or call 614.291.0885 ex 4140.

Michael Larson