SAN FRANCISCO - An after school program that's helped thousands of children in an economically vulnerable San Francisco neighborhood is celebrating 25 years of service. The Tenderloin After School Program is known for its tutoring and access to computers.
Students say they love The Tenderloin after School Program or TASP for short.
"In sixth grade, when I came, I had bad grades and when I came and started doing homework, they started explaining stuff to me and I raised my grades up," said Jonathan Ibarra and Freddie Rangel, students in the program.
"If not for our program, many of our children, many of our students would be unsupervised after school. They would be living in a more isolated environment," said Denise Obrero, a TASP Program Manager.
"What the after school program offers is a safe space for them, but it also engages children from 7 all the way to 18," added Obrero.
Don Falk is the CEO of TNDC, The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, which is the parent organization of TASP.
"It's a warm and caring place. It's a place of refuge, it's truly home for them a home away from home," said Falk.
The after school program was founded 25 years ago because parents asked TNDC for a safe place for their kids after school. Former Mayor Frank Jordan helped kick it off.
"It's such a proud moment to see them from just very young children, to go through their adolescence and obviously give back to the community to the program that they know so well," said Obrero.
Many of the children in the program come from families living in low-income housing managed by TNDC
"We're now providing homes to over 4000 people, most of them with incomes under $1000 a month," said Falk.
"We live in a city that is gentrifying, where low-income people and people of color are being forced out. And yet, here in the tenderloin, a third of the housing is protected, preserved and dedicated in perpetuity for low-income people," added Falk.
TNDC is successful because of its partnerships with dozens and dozens of organizations, including the mayor's Office of Housing. Those partnerships extend to the after school program.
They take kids on field trips donated by different companies, including ABC7, so kids can see beyond the borders of the Tenderloin.
Local businesses hold toy drives, raise money for new backpacks and come in and cook or tutor.
Patrick O'Neill works in the financial services industry, and tutors students in math twice a week.
"One of the cool things about TASP is how multilingual and multicultural it is, so you do see a lot of different approaches to how people look at math from different cultures, different areas of the world," said O'Neill
O'Neill also likes to brew beer and cider. He's combining his passion for brewing and books.
The Tenderloin after School Program is not only making history by marking 25 years of service. It's also changing the course of history for the hundreds of kids who come here after school every day.
"Last year, which was my second college tour, half the participants had never been on a plane before. So, just sharing that experience with them was profound," said Edward Freeman, a TASP Program Coordinator.
The gala for the after school program is this coming Friday, April 28. ABC7 NEWS Anchor Cheryl Jennings is the emcee.
Click here for ticket information, or ways to help the afterschool program.