The mission of the South Street Youth Center (SSYC) is to provide a safe, educational, and engaging space during out-of-school time for young residents of the South Street Development. Through its broad-based programs, participants learn a happy, healthy, resilient attitude toward life that will help sustain them through adulthood.
PARTICIPANTS: The South Street Youth Center is open to all. Most participants are 1st thru 10th grade students from low-income families who reside in the South Street Development (SSD) of the Boston Housing Authority; most are Latino or African-American
PROGRAMS: South Street Youth Center programs aim to counteract the impact of poverty and racism on the healthy development of resident youth; develop self-confidence and resiliency that will impact long term health and economic outcomes; and equip SSD youth with the skills to participate and lead in their schools and communities.
The South Street Youth Center was founded in 1996 by a collaborative body of community groups, elected officials and residents of Jamaica Plain to respond to gang activity, violence, and drug dealing in and around the South Street Development. A variety of initiatives aimed at residents of all ages, including substance abuse counseling, drop-in hours for mothers and babies, senior coffee hours, and the youth center, addressed the needs of South Street residents for safety, health promotion, and access to resources. Violence is now sharply reduced and the development is a safer place to live. Initially funded by the Boston Housing Authority, the youth center became self-funded in 2001 and remains at the South Street Development at no cost.
ACHIEVEMENTS: The impact of South Street Youth Center programming is demonstrated by the for 3 cohorts of youth we have tracked since 2007:
- First cohort now in their 20’s: 11 youth with 3 high school graduates, 1 GED, 8 incarcerated, 1 deceased
- Second cohort now in late teens/early 20’s: 14 youth, 11 high school graduates, 2 incarcerated
- Third cohort now in early to mid-teens: 15 youth, 100% are projected to graduate high school on time, none have repeated a grade, several are involved in student government and other extra-curricular activities
An important contribution to the stability of the youth center was the hiring of Program Coordinator Corey Stallings that brings a deep passion for digital media to the South Street community and Assistant Program Coordinator Tanairi Liriano, who brings a wealth of knowledge of youth development.