About 6,000 people live in the ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood of Mt. Hope, located on the East Side of Providence. According to 2000 Census statistics, one in four Mt. Hope residents lives below the poverty level, and one in three children lives below the poverty level. About 30% of residents are African-American, 11% are Latino, 3.4% are Asian, and 1.7% are Native American.
Mt. Hope struggles with the problems endemic to many urban neighborhoods such as drugs, guns, theft, assault, and murder. The goal of the Mt. Hope Learning Center is to provide positive educational opportunities. Residents both young and old are encouraged to get involved in the Learning Center, both as volunteers and as participants; the Learning Center provides them the opportunity to come together as teachers and students, neighbors and peers. By providing free access to computers, classes, and tutoring, we encourage residents to pursue academic and career goals that enable them to transcend the cycle of poverty and crime. We provide quality educational services through community outreach and collaboration with other neighborhood organizations.
Research has shown that the social context in which people live can promote violence. Factors such as unemployment, discrimination, exposure to violence, access to firearms, gang involvement, and alcohol and drug use are major determinants of youth violence. The Providence Community Police report that Mt. Hope youth are exposed to these elements on a daily basis, and that, alarmingly, they are beginning to view this activity as a normal part of daily life. Additional risk factors such as family violence, inadequate supervision, and limited education and job skills also contribute to youth involvement in criminal activity.
While the residents of Mt. Hope have access to a number of quality social service providers, the Mt. Hope Learning Center is the only organization that focuses exclusively on providing educational services for this neighborhood, including help with homework after school and one-on-one tutoring. It was founded so that residents would have easy access to those services, without having to take long bus rides across the city to get the help they need. The Learning Center works closely with local public schools to provide supplemental services and activities, such as field trips and an open community computer lab. The types of educational services we provide can help to minimize or eliminate many of the risk factors outlined above.