Paul’s Place is an after-school program which started in 2000 out of a need in the neighborhood surrounding St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Delray Beach Florida. Located on the Church campus, the program provides a safe and supportive environment for underserved children in the surrounding neighborhood. Children come to receive various kinds of academic and social enrichment. Paul’s Place provides homework help, access to engaging mentors, supervised recreational activities, art, music, gardening and access to computers with internet. It also provides an “earned “Friday field trip each week for students who demonstrate appropriate behavior and academic performance. The students enjoy a nutritional snack and well-balanced family-style meal each day. All of this is provided for no cost to the families.
Current enrollment is 30 students between the ages of 6-19 who arrive each school day between the hours of 2:00 and 7:00pm. At this time, 17 elementary, 10 middle and three high school students participate, as well as three college students who return for guidance and a quiet place to study. It is unique in that students do not age out of the after- school program. The goal is to give them the tools and support they need to stay in school, graduate from high school and go on to college or viable jobs.
It has become very clear that not only is it important to help the students get into college, but to encourage them all the way through to graduation. The Paul’s Place Scholarship Fund was established with the goal to provide support for items that traditional scholarships and financial aid do not cover. It has expanded to partner with several private schools to offer scholarships to elementary and middle school students. Paul’s Place is currently aiding three students in college and three in private schools, with one more student being supported next year. All of these students that graduate and go on to college will be the first generation of their family pursuing a college degree.
Paul’s Place is a wholesome gathering place with a family-like atmosphere and a disciplined environment. Its goal is to help develop strong, capable and compassionate young adults. With the help of a generous community as neighbors helping neighbors, the after-school program is having a positive impact on many children and their families in Delray Beach.