Coordinator: Kate Davis
Urban Promise is ministry to children and youth living in the inner-city neighborhoods of Wilmington, Delaware. The mission of Urban Promise is to teach children and young adults the skills necessary for spiritual growth, academic achievement, life management and Christian leadership.
Urban Promise began in Wilmington in 1998 under the leadership of Rob Prestowitz. The ministry has grown to include 5 After-school programs, 5 summer day camps, the Street Leader program, the international intern program and the Urban Promise School.
After School Programs provide homework assistance, tutoring, healthy snacks and recreation for children. Fun and educational field trips are scheduled regularly. Summer Camps run for six weeks each summer and include arts & crafts, songs, skits, recreation, Bible lessons, educational enrichment, and weekly trips. Children are served both breakfast and lunch. Outside of camp, children are able to participate in additional activities such as praise dance, tennis, basketball, drama, Bible Buddies, and creative art.
The focus of the Street Leader Program is to provide opportunities, relationships and programming which will encourage holistic adolescent development. Street Leaders are equipped with skills for educational attainment, job readiness, and also to be responsible role models within their community. The program offers job training, tutoring, leadership development, discipleship opportunities, and either summer or year round employment in Urban Promise programs. Street Leaders are a vital part of the staff. They help teach classes and assist staff as camp counselors. They are also an important bridge to the community and often provide valuable insight into local issues and concerns.
The mission of Urban Promise School is to offer a quality, affordable Christian education to children from low and moderate income urban families. It is the aim of Urban Promise School to develop the academic life of every student using a God-centered, holistic approach: nurturing and challenging each child intellectually, physically, socially, and spiritually, using God’s Word as the source of truth.
Each year churches, businesses, college and youth groups travel to Wilmington to spend a day or a week working with Urban Promise. Groups are given the chance to learn about urban issues while engaged in hands-on service.
Red Clay’s Mission Team contributes financial support and participates in workdays, parties, and summer camp meals.
Contributed by Elaine Croft
The first words I heard that Saturday morning were “it’s raining”. I checked my email to see if it had been cancelled, but no, there was no email from Kate (Davis) to cancel. I heard later that Ray and Mim (Krout) had rung Kate to see if it was still on … and it was!
So, our merry band of helpers arrived at church to go landscaping with Urban Promise. We all agreed we certainly wouldn’t be doing our own landscaping on such a morning, but somehow this felt different and different it was.
Urban Promise, as you may already be aware, is an organization dedicated to ministry for children and youth living in the inner-city neighborhoods of Wilmington. It teaches children and young adults the skills necessary for spiritual growth, academic achievement, life management and Christian leadership. The children involved in the program do not have the opportunities so many of us assume and the staff and volunteers at Urban Promise work hard to bridge that gap.
The landscaping project for the day was in conjunction with the Delaware Center for Horticulture as part of their inner-city greening project. We were to plant 500 shrubs and 23 trees. The sense of giving was certainly not lost on me; here was Urban Promise giving their time and talents to another organization to improve the environment in which some of the children live.
So! Did the rain stop? Well, on and off! Did the trees and shrubs get planted? They certainly did! By lunch time the job was done and the planting looked very attractive, whereas we all looked muddy – especially Michelle’s (Byrnes) socks!
When we arrived back at the Urban Promise building we took off our shoes and socks and padded into the hall to have lunch and a discussion with some of the street leaders.
James, one of the leaders, did an excellent exercise to get us all thinking whilst we waited for pizza to arrive. He posed some very thought provoking questions about our personal opinions and mission.
The most difficult question I found to answer was “Do volunteers from other communities coming to Urban Promise have a positive impact on the work we do here?”.
This is something I have questioned, as some of you may have too, wondering whether my small contribution really helps.
One of the Street Leader’s (Lauren) provided the answer – a resounding YES!
She said “it tells us people really do care; they really want to help us make this program a success”
And the program certainly is a success – children who were brought up to believe they have no opportunities and options learn that their life can be different and achievement and a fulfilling life, with God’s help, is an achievable goal.
So next time you see a notice in the bulletin about a forthcoming work day with Urban Promise, please join us because as Lauren said YOU DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE and it will make a difference to you too.