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The John F. Kennedy Center seeks to improve the conditions of work, play, study, health, and living among the lower income residents of northeast Erie City. Our agency is responsive to the ever-changing needs of the community, with financial program accountability, all the while maintaining a high level of integrity within our organization and among those we serve.





The John F. Kennedy Center (JFK) was started in 1966 under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s federal War on Poverty.  For the first two years, JFK operated under GECAC as the community action agency mandated by the federal government to sponsor economic opportunity programs in Erie City and County.  On June 6, 1968 the John F. Kennedy Center was incorporated as a private nonprofit social service agency.

The John F. Kennedy Center, Inc. was formed to offer charitable programs to further the common good and general welfare of the lower income residents of a specific geographically defined disadvantaged target service area immediately surrounding the center.  JFK’s target area is bound on the north by East Lake Road, on the south by East 28th Street, on the west by East Avenue, and on the east by Bird Drive (city line).  The 1.78 square mile target service area remains the same today.

During the late 1960’s, the John F. Kennedy Center conducted community outreach and block club organization and operated youth recreation programs in neighborhood school gyms and vacant lots. In 1969, a fund drive was successfully launched to buy a commercial building. That storefront property at 2024 Buffalo Road became the building block from which the agency has grown. 

In 1972, the John F. Kennedy Center received its first direct service grant.  United Way of Erie County funded three positions – Executive Director, Executive Secretary and Recreation Director.  Bobby Harrison was the founding Executive Director.  Harrison would lead the agency until his untimely death in 2006. 


By the mid 70’s, the John F. Kennedy Center operated an emergency food and medical supplies program, food co-op, weekly meal program for seniors, and a community food and nutrition program from the storefront building.  Child care and youth recreation programs were conducted at various locations throughout the neighborhood.  In 1972, JFK’s Board of Directors and administration sought to bring all services under one roof.   A city-wide fund drive was conducted.  Local residents pledged $3,000 to the new facility and raised $800 during a single tag day.  Those local dollars provided the match to attract a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant for the construction of a $525,000 multi-purpose facility connected to the old storefront.  Today, the John F. Kennedy Center continues to provide services from this multi-purpose building.


Of all the health and social service programs operated by the John F. Kennedy Center over the years, services for children and seniors were always given top priority because the young and old seemed most vulnerable to the affects of poverty.  In addition, children and “old folks” were always especially close to Harrison’s heart. 


In 1997, the John F. Kennedy Center completed a $197,000 capital construction project that resulted in a 3,600 square foot addition to the multi-purpose facility to accommodate the increasing number of seniors being served.  The project matched $72,000 in local public grant funds to attract a $125,000 Pennsylvania Department of Aging Senior Center Capital Assistance grant.  The JFK Senior Center was dedicated by Richard D. Browdie, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, in January 1998.   


In 2006, the JFK-owned building located next door to the agency and known as PT 109, was made the City of Erie’s third Kids Cafe®.  In 2014, the facility was dedicated as the JFK Kids Cafe® Learning Center and today, it is used exclusively for children’s academic support and meal services. 

Today, the John F. Kennedy Center remains true to its mission to serve the lower income residents of the target service area by combating both the causes and effects of poverty.  Fifty years after opening, the John F. Kennedy Center continues the work of the agency’s original mission – to make a difference in the lives of lower income community residents.




JFK Center started under GECAC as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's federal War on Poverty


John F. Kennedy Center was incorporated as a private nonprofit social service agency


Opened a day care center in the administration building of Franklin Terrace (now John H. Horan Garden apartments) on Tacoma Rd


JFK Golden Age Club received its charter of affiliation with the National Council of Senior Citizens in Washington, DC


Present multipurpose facility built with HUD funds including a full size gymnasium and commercial kitchen


John F. Kennedy Center partnered with Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King centers to form United Neighborhood Facilities Health Care Corp (UNFHCC) to operate the WIC and Sickle Cell Anemia programs


Capitol construction project resulted in the present senior center. Jimmy Dean began a boxing program for young men


First music program: Sky's the Limit Band, started under the direction of Henry Jones 


Dr. R. Anthony Snow was appointed as JFK Medical Director. The primary care clinic was expanded to full time


JFK and General Electric Company's Elfun Society launched non-metallic machine shop called the JFK Minority Development Corporation (JFKMDC)


Pre-school child day care expanded to include after-school care for elementary school children


The Maternity Services Project (MSP) was started to insure health beginnings for the babies of teens and young adult mothers


The JFK Pharmacy was opened to support patients visiting JFK clinic to eliminate transportation problems


The Little Gridders football league was started. This project was dear to the heart of JFK's founding Director Bobby Harrison


Community Youth Activity Program (CYAP) and Dopebusters, a drug prevention for children were started by Bobby Harrison


The United Brothers and Sisters of Erie (UBASOE), a service club started by Mr. Harrison operated a summer jobs program for 40 teenage youth employed by 28 local organizations 


Computer classes and Music classes were started under the direction of Mary Alice Brown


The Performance Based Prevention (PBP) drug and alcohol program started with an emphasis on alternative educational activities 


The JFK Center entered into a partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Erie to provide after-school programs


The Flagship Niagara Little League Football and Cheerleading Programs were started


The Erie Conference on Community Development approved Center's $1 Million capital campaign and raised over $600K


Partnered with Edinboro University and other organizations in East Erie to expand Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC)


The JFK Center opened the city's third KidsCafe, a nutrition and nutrition education program sponsored by the Second Harvest Food Bank


Founding Executive Director, Bobby Harrison passes away and Deputy Director Samella Hudson-Brewer was appointed as Interim Director


Interim Director Samella Hudson-Brewer was appointed as the Executive Director by the Board. The 2000 block of East 20th Street was named as Bobby Harrison Way


The Summer Food Service Program was expanded to include breakfast and a mid-day snack in addition to lunch


The JFK Teen Council was started with the teens electing their own officers. A representative from JFK's Board of Directors was appinted as a non-voting youth representative


The Marnen Mioduszewski Bordonaro Wagner & Sinnott law firm selected JFK as their beneficiary in the Erie Insurance Gold Challenge


Erie Community Foundation and ECGRA grant funds to purchase new computers, printers and monitors for computer lab


Received PDA grant for program enhancement for seniors. First Annual Black History Jeopardy contest was made possible through and Erie Arts & Culture grant


United Way of Erie County Community Schools initiative provided support for virtual learning project. CARES act funding from Erie County and Erie City supported pandemic based expenses



POSITION: Education Specialist (Part-Time)


QUALIFICATIONS: Bachelor’s degree in early/secondary education with emphasis in reading, English, and math. PA teacher certification within 90 days of hire date. Current PA driver’s license with access to a vehicle during work hours. Proficient in Microsoft Office Word and Excel. Experience working with inner city youth in a community based setting an asset.


HOURS: This is a part-time position.

School Year: Monday thru Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Summer Time: Monday thru Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.



1. Provide tutorial services for JFK youth.
2. Provide homework assistance for JFK youth.
3. Secure report cards from all JFK registered youth.
4. Implement a variety of instructional activities such as spelling bees, read a book contests and other learning is fun activities for JFK youth that contribute to a climate where students are actively engaged in meaningful learning experiences.
5. Maintain effective and efficient record keeping procedures, including but not limited to preparing and submitting Sign-In Sheets; securing/logging/tracking student report cards; and generating participation and outcomes data required by JFK’s funding sources.
6. Provide a positive environment in which JFK youth are encouraged to be actively engaged in the learning process.
7. Plan and implement quarterly Report card parties.
8. Plan the annual Academic Awards Banquet held in May.
9. Be creative in organizing the education area and learning resources to create a positive learning environment.
10. Motivate the students with enthusiastic and imaginative presentation.
11. Maintain individual student files as necessary to track their academic progress/non-progress.
12. Secure report cards from all students.
13. Maintain discipline.
14. Assist in recruiting and selecting volunteer tutors and supervise any volunteers.
15. Order educational materials per JFK’s purchasing procedure.
16. Cooperate with all JFK After-School staff in the provision of homework services.
17. Refer struggling youth to JFK’s Case Manager.
18. Submit monthly report to the Youth Director by the third Thursday of each month.
19. Perform other duties as properly assigned.

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