For more than 12 years, Little Lights Urban Ministries has been a bright light in one Southeast community.
Nestled in the affluent Capitol Hill neighborhood, Little Lights reaches out to kids living in the Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Housing projects.
"Little Lights really wants to be that safe haven for kids," says founder Steven Park. "A place where they feel valued and important."
For many children, the year-round after-school and summer program is a home away from home.
Christopher Newton, 17, grew up in the program and credits little lights with getting him focused and now on to college. He says he grew up in a bad neighborhood and Little Lights kept him out of trouble.
Daniel Hewitt received his first summer job through Little Lights.
Now that he's graduated college, he's reaching out to help other kids stay on the right track.
"It's good for both of us," Hewitt says. "Good for them to see somebody from the community go away to school come back and haven't turned away from them. someone to look up to."
And it's people like Christopher, Daniel and countless volunteers that help little lights continue to shine.
"Education is intelligence plus character and that's what we want," Park says. "The kids to excel in their academics and to learn and to love learning but also grow in their character."