P.O. Box 2185
E. Saint Louis, IL 62202
(618) 489-5021


Families in public housing face growing challenges. Most have not consistently had employment as a means of income, but welfare reform legislation has eliminated public assistance as a main source of support. Children growing up in welfare-supported homes  often do not have employed role models or the know-how to obtain first jobs. They do not know what employers expect and how to plan for education that leads to employment.

Through an array of programs, Griffin Center prepares students for employment and independence from welfare:

  • After-school recreation. In after-school social recreation programs, children can choose to play table games, have a snack, or do arts and crafts. They have access to computer labs with Internet connections.
  • Learning Lab.  In the Learning Lab, certified teachers or teachers’ aides hired by the center provide after-school tutoring and homework assistance. Many of the teachers have moved out of the area but return to volunteer because they are committed to helping children have better lives.
  • Violence prevention. The center’s violence-prevention program trains students in problem solving, developing empathy for others, and anger management. At the beginning and end of each year, students’ social skill development is evaluated.
  • Welfare to Work. Students receive mentoring in education and job skills in the Welfare to Work: Step by Step for Teens program. Griffin Center hires teens who have come through its programs to work with young people in this program. By requiring the teens to stay in school to keep their job, the program helps the teens themselves and provides good role models for the younger students.
  • Advocacy. Griffin Center staff advocate for children and families in the school system; public aid system; and specialized housing, social, and health systems.We walk with individuals as they navigate these systems as well as work on the systemic/legislative/policy level.

Griffin’s Center’s helping hands extend beyond its programs. Staff members provide numerous families with information; referrals; counseling; and direct assistance with rent, utilities, and other basic necessities. The center recognizes children for academic accomplishments, and it provides backpacks, uniforms and school supplies to students who attend school on the opening day through our Project Success: Pack ‘em Back to School program.

Summer Activities Enrich Children’s Lives

In the crowded, hot housing developments, children urgently need structured activities to fill their time. Griffin Center’s free summer day camps keep them out of trouble and busywith positive activities.. In air-conditioned buildings right in the housing developments, the camps provide meals and cultural experiences.

Each week, the campers go on a field trip, often filling two buses.  The  full-day park and swimming outing gives some respite in the beauty and peacefulness of nature and the coolness of the water as well as expands the children’s vision of the world for many have never been beyond the housing project.

Day camp staff members, as well as regular staff,  have been hired from the housing projects.Working at the centers has been empowering for the adults because the children in their developments see them as caring, capable leaders.