The mission of the Urban Erie Community Development Corporation (UECDC) is “to accomplish what is greater by increasing the capacity for economic self-sufficiency through cutting-edge educational services and training; by empowering youth to build their skills and grow to their potential; and by inspiring the community to take steps towards creating a better future for its people and organizations.”
In 2002 the Urban Erie Community Development Corporation (UECDC) merged with the Reverend E.F. Smith Quality of life Learning Center as a 501(c)(3) with the same EIN. Activities carried out by the UECDC continue under the fictitious name “Reverend E.F. Smith Quality of Life Learning Center.” The Rev. E.F. Smith Quality of Life Learning Center (QLLC) was originally created in 1993 as a faith-based organization whose objective was to address the disproportionate amount of poverty and crime concentrated in the Southeast section of the City of Erie. The center earned its namesake from a prominent African-American activist, Dr. Ernest Franklin Smith, who made it his life mission to provide education and employment opportunities for both young and old in Erie. He founded a nursery school, started health classes to improve sanitation conditions, began adult education classes, and provided meals to needy children at the Negro Welfare Mission.
The UECDC has continued to operate under Rev. E.F. Smith’s legacy by offering employment and education services to improve the quality of life for local community residents. The UECDC offers adult basic education courses that include GED and ESL classes, career counseling and workforce development services, and a comprehensive after-school program. 80% of UECDC’s clientele are public housing residents. There are ten low-income section eight housing developments with 1,595 family units within a five-mile radius of the center.
In recent years, the UECDC’s clientele has shifted to mirror the subsequent rise in immigrants and refugees who call Erie home. New Americans come from a variety of countries including but not limited to: South Sudan, Eritrea, Liberia, Somalia, Ukraine, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi. These individuals and are an eclectic and diverse group of people who come from different faith backgrounds and speak an average of three languages. Entire families take advantage of the programs the UECDC has to offer, with parents attending education classes or receiving job assistance and their children attending the after-school program. The program began with just 7 students in 2005 and has grown through referrals and by word of mouth.