About Us

- OUR MISSION AND PURPOSE -

Our Mission: To empower and strengthen people of all ages with a focus on children and youth, to enhance the quality of their lives through learning and service.

As a non-profit organization, Keystone SMILES CLC is committed to providing youth with opportunities to be the best by providing a wide-range of educational programs serving youth ages Preschool through Adult.

We Are:

A Federally Recognized 501(c)3 Charitable Organization

An AmeriCorps Hub for Northwestern PA

An Alternative Education Private Provider

Pennsylvania Tax Credit Program Recipient

A Keystone STARS 3 Preschool Provider

PA Pre-K Counts Classroom

Lead Agency for Safe Kids Clarion-Venango

Grantor of the Ross A. McGinnis Memorial Service Awards

A Youthbuild USA Affiliate (House of Trades Program)

Our Story - How We Began

In 1991, Keystone SMILES began as a school-based service-learning initiative at Keystone Elementary School in Knox, PA. A core group of elementary school teachers coordinated a way to combine educational objectives with service to the community. Students learned oral and written communication skills and social studies while providing service to area nursing homes. With the help of partnerships, cooperation from area businesses, and individual volunteers, Keystone SMILES consistently grew by adding more projects, expanding the program to more students, and by addressing more community needs.

In October of 1994, Keystone SMILES began its service mission as a grantee of the Corporation for National and Community Service to the Keystone School District in Knox, PA. In service to Pennsylvania’s children, youth and communities, Keystone SMILES staff, AmeriCorps members, local volunteers, and area businesses joined efforts to renovate and establish the first of four child development centers, located in Knox. The refurbished building project was completed and opened for business in December of 1994. The second building was refurbished in 1996 to serve as a community learning center. The third renovated building was a children’s center located in Emlenton, Pa and the fourth in Sharpsville, PA. On May 12, 1995, Keystone SMILES became incorporated and is now a federally recognized charitable organization that serves as an AmeriCorps hub for northwestern Pennsylvania. The four rural centers provide educational support to over 745 families a year throughout Clarion, Venango, and Mercer Counties.

The commitment to establish the child development and community learning center was an effort by Keystone SMILES, AmeriCorps, and the community to assist area residents in overcoming the limited resources that restrict services to children and families of rural communities.

Our Awards

  • Exemplary Elementary Service Award
  • Presidential Youth Service Award given to 856 students (involved in SMILES Service-Learning Projects) at Keystone Elementary
  • Second Runner-up, PA State Service Fair
  • One of six AmeriCorps programs nationwide included in documentary on National Service
  • Outstanding Elementary School Service-Learning Project, PA State Service Fair
  • Used as a case study by Presidio Leadership Training Center, San Francisco, CA
  • One of 50 runners-up nationwide in Community Solutions for Education Contest sponsored by USA Today
  • Outstanding AmeriCorps*State program in Pennsylvania
  • Chosen as an AmeriCorps Leader site
  • Chosen as a VISTA Leaders site
  • Executive Director chosen for Humanitarian Service Award for Distinguished Alumni, Clarion University
  • Awarded the Keystone Service Coalition Award for Excellence in Collaboration
  • Awarded the Clarion Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Award, Community Service Division
  • Clarion Summer SMILES Drum and Bugle Corps Show named Drum Corps
  • International’s 2001 Division II/III Contest of the Year
  • Approved Alternative Education Private Provider through the Pennsylvania Department of Education
  • Chosen Best in Parade by Clarion’s Autumn Leaf Festival, 2001, 2002, 2003
  • Board Member, John Altadonna, named Zambelli International Volunteer of the Year
  • Approved to receive funds through the Educational Tax Credit program,
  • National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials Award (NAHRO Award) in conjunction with Mercer County Housing Authority
  • Northwest PA Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth System Community Partner of the Year
  • Featured as 1 of 51 of the “Most Innovative AmeriCorps programs in the United States” by Innovations in Civic Participation Northwest
  • PA Safe Kids Community Outreach Award
  • NWPA WIA Youth System Community Partner of the Year
  • 2007 Spirit of Service National Service Award Finalist– Staff Member Liborio Hansford
  • Venango Training and Development Corporation Outstanding Community Partner
  • National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials Award (NAHRO Award) in conjunction with Mercer County Housing Authority
  • MARC NAHRO Outstanding Achievement Award in conjunction with Mercer County Housing Authority
  • Awared YouthBuild USA Status
  • PA Pre-K Counts competitive grant awardee