David E. Smith Jr. was born in Illinois and for much of his life lived on the east side of Aurora. For part of his childhood his family lived in Eastwood, one of the Aurora Housing Authority (AHA) neighborhoods. Throughout his entire childhood he saw how his parents were community minded and cared about people who needed help. He learned the importance of lending a helping hand and sharing what he had with those less fortunate.
As an adult he has established himself as a businessman, eventually opening his own printing and graphic design business. He uses his skills to provide affordable services to community organizations, churches, and business entrepreneurs.
After moving back to Illinois, David realized that there were still many families in communities throughout the city of Aurora that needed support and resources.
In 2015 he began actively working as a Neighborhood Organizer for the city of Aurora. This continues as he still works with the Aurora Police Department and city Aldermen to plan, establish, and support neighborhood groups to foster positive community relations, and organize community block parties and National Night Out events. For two years he also served as the liaison for the African American Heritage Board.
In that same year he launched a non-profit, At-Risk Mentoring, a 501c3 organization with a focus on creating a positive impact in the city of Aurora by encouraging and facilitating community connections and providing programs that benefit children and families. He initially started in Eastwood, as a way of giving back to the community where he grew up.
He began offering spring and winter break camps for youth in 1st through 5th grades that included fun academic, social, and community activities. This quickly expanded to year-round programs that added summer camps, after school mentoring and homework clubs, community movie nights, and Christmas holiday Toys for Tots events. In the years since David has been able to duplicate these efforts and continues to offer these same programs in several other under-resourced communities throughout the city. He is proud to say that At Risk Mentoring has always offered all programs free of charge to the youth and families they serve.
In 2018 an effort was launched to address the lack of technology available to many residents of the AHA neighborhoods. The response was to raise money and purchase enough laptops to create a computer lab. With this equipment, a variety of technology-based curriculum was added to the programs he offered.
In 2020 David took things a step further, and with the help of many generous donors, At Risk Mentoring purchased a 25-passenger bus and transformed it into a state-of-the-art Mobile Tech Center. It houses up to 10 laptop/iPad workstations, complete with custom seating, access to internet and printing, as well as a smart tv audio-visual classroom display system.
New to At Risk Mentoring’s programming is an E-Learning Support Program that provides educational support to families by allowing students to come into the local community center and the Mobile Tech Center to complete their remote learning schoolwork. Additionally, he has partnered with the city of Aurora and the TinkRWorks organization to offer coding camps where students learn to build and code roverbots and Artalive.
David has been recognized for his community work in the city of Aurora by receiving the Mayor’s Award of Excellence for his work as a Neighborhood Organizer, as well as a Mayoral Commendation and Mayor’s Service Above Self Award for his work with At Risk Mentoring.
David is married to his wife Carla of 33 years, has 2 married children, and 3 grandchildren. He continues to build this legacy of community involvement with his family.