1997: In the News: The Worcester Youth Center put Worcester on the national map when its production of West Side Story was featured on 60 Minutes television news program
Recipient of one of six national Monroe E. Trout Premier Care Awards as an outstanding grassroots effort to serve at-risk populations
2001: Started incubator for youth development activities in Worcester, the HOPE (Healthy Options for Prevention and Education) Coalition, which remains a citywide body of teenagers who identify issues of concerns and recommend solutions
2002: Received Health Foundation of Central MA Community Award
2003: Implemented Urban Community Action Planning for Teens (UCAPT), a participatory, experiential youth model developed by board president Dr. Laurie Ross, Clark University professor, to engage low-income, urban youth in neighborhood problem-solving and planning
2003: Through UCAPT program efforts, Peer Leaders sponsored the Alliance for a Drug-Free Community to raise awareness of illegal activities in a local bar next to the center that was a hotspot for drug and gang activity, as well as prostitution. Partly because of this effort, the city closed the bar in fall of 2003.
2004: Youth presented at national conference on youth violence programs at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) meeting
2005: Recipient of the “United Way Community Builder” award, designed to recognize outstanding achievement and initiatives to build better communities for the common good
2008: Formalized a relationship with the Worcester Police Department and included in the Shannon Initiative
2008: Toxic Use Reduction Initiative encouraged youth to develop safe cleaning products. Peer Leaders in SPIN program (Safe Products in Neighborhoods) generated ideas for cleaning sneakers, polishing jewelry and creating homemade cosmetics, created and sold Spindex non-toxic household cleaning product
2008: Micro-enterprise programs launched, with first youth-led businesses including nail and hair salon, event organizer, and music recording.
2009: 25 Worcester Youth Center members enrolled in two- and four-year institutions of higher learning, many the first in their families to attend college
2010: The United Way awarded $1,000 to the Center to implement business plans created in the micro-enterprise program, first of three annual awards.
2010: First YouthReach program began with Worcester Art Museum; youth create art in response to their analysis of community challenges.
2010, 2012: Successful fundraisers at Hanover Theatre, Mummenschanz and Imperial Acrobats of China performances shared ticket sales with Worcester Youth Center
2011: Worcester Youth Center members testified on Beacon Hill on drop-out legislation sponsored by State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz that would raise the mandatory school attendance age from 16 to 18 and create graduation coaches for at-risk youth
2011: Named one of eight youth agencies in Worcester to join Youth Connect, funded by the United Way to coordinate after-school activities and youth development services to improve access and track outcomes for youth across the city
2011: Forestry training program began with Worcester Tree Initiative. By 2012, 11 youth received six months of urban forestry training and subsidized work experience; three had unsubsidized jobs. Youth reported that planting and watering city trees helped them value their city more.
2011: YouthReach program art exhibit held at Worcester Public Library
2011: Worcester Youth Center joined the state’s Safe and Successful Youth Initiative to work with youth at high risk of reoffending through Bridging the Opportunities Gap (BOG) programming, including “Game for Success” at Becker College.
2011: Began “One Circle” program for girls ages 10 to 14 in collaboration with Latino Education Institute and Plumley Village
2011: Collaboration with Quinsigamond Community College began with culinary training and certification program, “Cooking up a Career”
2012: Culinary training program praised by funder Commonwealth Corporation as state’s most successful — 60 young adults ages 17 to 24 receive food prep training, subsidized work placements, industry certifications and work readiness training. 12 work in unsubsidized jobs.
2012: After initial involvement in surveys of homeless youth in 2009-11, Worcester Youth Center joins Compass Project to address issues of youth homelessness in coordination with LUK, Inc., Worcester Police Department, Mass. Department of Youth Services and Mass. Department of Children and Families
2012: YouthReach program art exhibit held at Sprinkler Factory Gallery
2012: Record number of youth (166) participate in work readiness activities with progress tracked
2012: 919 youth served, with 385 attending on a regular basis. Attendance for the year was 15,345.
2013: 15 youth from YouthReach collaborative with the Worcester Art Museum program created a mixed-media art exhibit depicting issues of addiction, displayed at the Davis Gallery in Worcester for one month and moved to newly created gallery/lounge space at the Center
2013: Named one of six Bay State agencies to win grants for clean energy job training initiatives from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. STEMming the Opportunity Gap (SOG) is a three-phase partnership between the Youth Center, Quinsigamond Community College, and the Central Mass Workforce Investment Board to create an educational pathway for at-risk youth to prepare for, enter and be successful in college — leading to a STEM-related career.