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youth programs

YWCA's Youth Learning Centers:
where children are safe and learning is fun!


Fifty weeks each year during after school hours, school holidays and during the summer, 11 YWCA Youth Learning Centers open their doors to more than 360 youth from fragile communities, in grades K-5. The Youth Learning Centers offer youth a safe, educational and fun environment, with a variety of activities from swimming and storytelling to field trips and arts and crafts.

At the YWCA, our youth engage in healthy social behavior and build relationships with children their own age. YWCA core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility are at the heart of the Youth Learning Centers. These core values are incorporated into daily activities, games and conversation.

Program Outcomes (2012)

  • 64 of Youth Programs students in Mecklenburg County improved reading level by a
    minimum of four months.
  • 84 of Youth Programs students in Union County improved reading level by a
    minimum of four months.


YWCA Youth Learning Centers are academically-based with trained staff on hand to help youth complete their homework. The program emphasizes individual development, encourages team spirit to build self-confidence and character and provides youth with positive tools and skills that will last a lifetime.

Parents of YWCA participants work with after school staff and volunteers to develop homework, study and tutoring programs personalized to fit their child’s individual needs.  Center coordinators show children the crucial connection between academic success and achieving their future goals.  Career exploration speakers have included a mortician, firefighter, medic, lawyer and cosmetologist.  YWCA youth visit local universities, community colleges and trade schools to explore continued education and career opportunities after high school.

YWCA Central Carolinas has launched Adopt-A-Center with a focus on helping youth and community volunteers build social capital and foster interracial trust. Through the Adopt-A-Center initiative, each youth learning center enters into formal partnership with volunteers from one company, institution of higher learning, place of worship, or other defined group, bringing both human and financial resources to the site over time.  Specifically, a core group of volunteers from the partner organization will commit to a long-term relationship with one Youth Learning Center, offering tutorial support, mentoring, shadowing jobs, facilitating Teaching Tolerance activities, and channelling support to that particular community of families served by the YWCA.

Interested in Learning More?
For more information about the YWCA Youth Learning Center in your neighborhood, contact Lelia Smallwood at 704.525.5770 or lsmallwood This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Click here for a list of locations, addresses and phone numbers.



We asked our youth what they would do if they were President. Here's what they said.

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