PHILADELPHIA - A new safe space for North Philadelphia teens held its soft opening on Monday in hopes to provide an educational alternative for youths often swallowed up by the city's scourge of crime.
The center occupies a storefront on the 2200 block of North Broad Street and is open to youths between 12-17-years-old, according to the non-profit group Frontline Dads.
"We want to provide some hope, we want to provide an oasis of light for people to point to and say ‘this is a place I can go and be supported’," Executive Director Ruben Jones said.
The center, which will be open until 7 p.m. each night, will offer youngsters tutoring, tech training, homework help and financial literacy.
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Jones, a reformed ex-convict, said he will help mentor youths as part of the effort to turn them away from street crimes.
The center has received community support leading up to its Monday ribbon cutting, including a $1,000 grant from the Philadelphia Eagles.
Natasha Harris of Broken Wings Literacy Center is one of the participants who will offer educational services at the center.
"We're willing to forgive, and we're willing to love, and be able to heal those broken wings," Harris said.
The Blues Babe Foundation, spearheaded by Philadelphia R&B singer Jill Scott, provided laptops for the teen center.
"I want to help the community because it’s bad out there," 15-year-old Malik Diggins said.