The Worcester Youth Center is an educational, recreational and social facility for youth between the ages of 14 and 24. Our mission is to provide a safe place where young people can build lasting, positive changes in their lives. We accomplish this mission by seeking resources, collaborations and opportunities that help young people to realize their full potential, sharpen skills and enable them to become vital, responsible and contributing members of society. The Center has been and continues to be a “safe haven” for young people in Worcester.
The Center opened its doors in 1994 after three years of planning by youth, city officials, youth organizations, and adult advocates. Together, they envisioned a drop-in center that would be open to all young adults and adolescents throughout Worcester. It would not charge fees for membership or programs. The Center has since grown in its ability to carry out the mission.
Over the past twenty years, the Center has increased capacity to serve more youth and offers a wider variety of programs and transitional support activities promoting positive youth development. Our program model recognizes the developmental needs of youth and encourages them during the various phases of their social, physical and intellectual maturation. Today, Worcester Youth Center is truly aspiring to exemplify the motto: “it’s not just a place to go, it is a place to go further.”
Since the inception, the organization has lived in three locations in Worcester. It is currently located at 326 Chandler Street, in a building it owns, adjacent to Beaver Brook park. It is across the street from Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium. Long time local residents will know this location as the former Tatnuck Bookseller annex and before that, Capital Toys. The facility includes a large multi-purpose recreation room with pool tables, a basketball hoop, DJ booth, and tables for eating. The Center also has a 10 station computer center, two classrooms, a dance studio (by appointment), recording studio (by appointment), art gallery/cyber lounge, and staff offices.
The Youth Center has a host of activities in which young people can get involved. The youth can choose to enroll in more than one activity and attend year round. Or, they can obtain discreet support either one time or periodically throughout the year. Activities are grouped into four programs: Academic Support, Creative Expression & Leadership, Health/Wellness, and Work Preparation.
Who We Serve
Some of the most at-risk youth in the City of Worcester are actively participating in Worcester Youth Center activities. Many of our members live in neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty, physically deteriorating surroundings, a shortage of affordable housing and areas where crime, drugs, and gang activity abound.
The Center attracts a diverse clientele including Latino, African-American, White and Asian. Many of them face barriers to work and school including low academic success, foster care/juvenile justice involvement, homelessness, teen pregnancy, disability, substance use and dependency, and live in families that routinely experience economic hardship.
The Youth Center is funded by generous donations from residents, foundations, local companies and other corporations. It also contracts with government entities to provide specific services to targeted groups such as those involved with the juvenile justice system.
Services at the Center are free to all members. Some participants may have to qualify for certain specific services; however, all members can use the Center and participate in comparable activities.