The Shaw Community Ministry afterschool program is designed to encourage and assist students to reach their full potential academically and to behave responsibly. Students receive tutorial assistance and mentoring by trained staff as part of the program's goal to help them develop a strong foundation and appreciation for the learning process, academic achievement and success.

Participants in the program arrive at the SCM Center after school and stay until 6:00 pm. The daily schedule for students participating in the program includes a "Homework Power Hour" in which students are given the opportunity to study and work on homework with tutoring in reading, spelling and math. Then, students enjoy a nutritious meal donated by DC Central Kitchen, before taking part in Enrichment instruction, in which they are encouraged to think critically about matters in their society. There is a brief period of cleaning up before students return home.

As part of the Best Practices program, described by the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, that SCM has adopted, the number of staff to students is kept at a 1:10 ratio. This ensures that students receive as much individual attention from staff as possible. Another component of the Best Practices program requires SCM to provide afterschool participants with fun and engaging activities outside of academic assistance. Our program provides classes in nutrition, wellness, yoga, dance, and computer literacy. A recent addition to the afterschool program is the "compassionate communication" coaching led by yoga instructors. Youth learn to seek inner peace and create mutual, caring relationships with friends and family. As part of the nutrition classes, members of the afterschool program make and frequently update weight loss journals. The afterschool program also provides a safe haven for children, held together by a system of well established rules and discipline.

Both staff and parents are actively involved in the afterschool program. The staff maintains communication with schools and keeps tabs on students' grades. Lessons challenge participants to think critically about academic material and the society in which they are living. When registering a student, parents are required to sign a Parent's Agreement. They promise to attend monthly meetings to discuss their child's experience in the program as well as provide feedback on the program's success. Parents also are required to volunteer monthly at SCM and donate healthy snacks and drinks.

Education is the key to bringing families out of poverty. In a neighborhood where the unemployment rate is over 15% and 32.3% of children live below the poverty line, a focus on keeping children in school and teaching them to make positive life decisions is essential. The Shaw Community Ministry program has expanded to serve 50 youth, ages five to eighteen. The afterschool program has boosted the confidence and measurably enhanced the academic success of the participants. The result is an increased likelihood of the students attending college and receiving scholarships that will open up greater opportunities for them to achieve their life goals and to seek fulfilling careers.