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The Center for Teen Empowerment

 384 Warren Street
 Boston, MA 02119
[P] (617) 536-4266 x 304
[F] (617) 536-4311
[email protected]
Stephanie Berkowitz
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-3091002

LAST UPDATED: 05/24/2017
Organization DBA The Center for Teen Empowerment, Inc.
Former Names The Center for the Development of Teen Empowerment Programs (1998)
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes


Mission StatementMORE »

Our mission is to empower both youth and adults as agents of positive individual, institutional, and social change. We envision a world in which youth, working with adults in mutually respectful and supportive relationships, can use their voices creatively to inspire, lead, and empower their communities to achieve justice and peace.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to empower both youth and adults as agents of positive individual, institutional, and social change. We envision a world in which youth, working with adults in mutually respectful and supportive relationships, can use their voices creatively to inspire, lead, and empower their communities to achieve justice and peace.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year July 01, 2016 to June 30, 2017
Projected Income $1,767,567.00
Projected Expense $1,761,421.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Boston Youth Organizing Initiative
  • Rochester Youth Organizing Initiative
  • Somerville Youth Organizing Initiative

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Our mission is to empower both youth and adults as agents of positive individual, institutional, and social change. We envision a world in which youth, working with adults in mutually respectful and supportive relationships, can use their voices creatively to inspire, lead, and empower their communities to achieve justice and peace.

Background Statement

In 1992, the Center for Teen Empowerment began its first community based youth organizing initiative in Boston’s South End. Youth and adults staff worked to resolve serious gang conflicts, which lead to the first Youth Peace Conference where TE Youth Organizers brokered a lasting peace treaty between five rival gangs. TE now operates three Boston community based sites, one community based site in Somerville and one in Rochester, New York. Together these sites have employed more then 1,700 teens as Youth Organizers, held 29 youth-led Peace Conferences (this year will be Teen Empowerment’s 20thBoston Peace Conference) with a more than 500 youth attending each of these powerful events, and involved some 30,000 youth and adults in a wide variety of high quality community change initiatives including police-youth-community dialogues, gang negotiations, healing ceremonies, conflict resolution sessions, and neighborhood celebrations, while providing youth leadership in the planning and implementation of hundreds of meetings, forums and conferences sponsored by community groups, governmental agencies, and private local and national foundations.


Teen Empowerment began work in Rochester, NY, in 2003. In 2006, the site initiated the Youth-Police Unity Project, which involved a core group of police and youth meeting on a regular basis to implement a citywide strategy to improve relationships and increase levels of public safety. Strategies included a series of police-youth dialogues, citywide symposiums, and integration of TE youth into the police training academy, as well as a survey (in collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology) completed by over 2,000 youth and 150 police officers. In 2010, YPUP was named a “Bright Idea” by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

In 2005 Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone asked Teen Empowerment to intervene in a decade-long epidemic of gangs, drug overdose, and teen suicides. At that time, most of the City’s strategies to address the problem were punitive. TE, working with the entire social service network of the city, helped create many opportunities for youth voice and youth leadership and built trusting relationships between youth and adults. Within two years, the toxic environment for youth began to shift. Media began projecting positive images of youth, and other agencies increased opportunities for youth to use their assets to solve problems. These changes resulted in a transformation in the negative youth culture. It has now been over four years since a Somerville teen has died from an overdose or suicide and gang activity has decreased significantly.


Over its 20 year history, Teen Empowerment has developed a many valuable resources that are used by professionals in youth development, human resources, and education throughout the United States and around the world. These includeour book,Moving Beyond Icebreakers,which provides instruction in a revolutionary method of establishing group environments where high levels of productivity and individual growth are the norm. The Center has sold over 5,000 copies of the publication, which documents over 300 interactive exercises and contains a detailed explanation of how interactive methods can be used to move groups to productive outcomes. TE also produces DVDs featuring Youth Organizers for use in classrooms and other youth settings and the TETV YouTube channel, which features youth speeches, songs, raps, and plays that illustrate the powerful vehicles of social change that young people have created. TE conducts short and long term consulting and training projects for groups that serve youth and that are interested in using our interactive methodology, building relationships among diverse constituents, and other topics.

TE’s work is recognized nationally and has received several honors, including MassVote’s Teen Empowerment award (2011), Harvard University Ash Center Bright Idea (2010), Rochester Institute of Technology Center for Public Safety Initiatives Award (2009), Eastern Bank Community Quarterback Award (2008), U.S. Mayor’s Conference Best Practice in Youth Development (2007), Bank of America Neighborhood Builder Award (2006) and Drucker Foundation Nonprofit Innovation of the Week (2004).

Impact Statement

In FY2016, TE employed 127 youth in leadership roles. These youth worked together with adults to plan and  implement 123 initiatives that involved 5,165 youth and adults in Boston, Somerville and Rochester. Among the community change initiatives were:

Youth-Police Partnership: TE held youth-police dialogue sessions, basketball games, talent shows, and community safety initiatives involving more than 150 officers. 100% of participants thought TE made interactions between youth and police more respectful

Youth Voice: TE brought youth voice into city meetings, school department policy decision making, park design processes, and city commissions and committees. TE held inter-generational dialogues on racism, helped create a new discipline policy for the Rochester City School District, and captured and shared with policy makers the stories of youth affected by mass incarceration.

Youth Opportunities: TE coordinated the SW Rochester Youth Jobs Collaborative;  Somerville Speaks: Mental Wellness Youth Ambassadors program; and  Boston’s Opportunity Youth Community Action Team and other projects this year.

Youth Arts: TE youth created original music, theater, poetry, video and speeches to share their social change ideas. TE’s youth-run record label, TE Studios released its third album.

Teen Empowerment also had a tremendous impact on the youth leaders:

·         100% gained skills that prepared them for the future

·         100% were proud of their work and thought they positively impacted the community

·         100% gained self-respect

·         96% built better relationships with police

·         95% showed an increase in civic engagement

·         95% gained leadership skills

·         77% of youth displayed an increased level of empowerment

·         Compared to their peers, youth who work at TE leave the program with higher employability and civic engagement, and these impacts are sustained over time.

“I used to fight, smoke, and do nothing with my life, but I’ve changed. When TE hired me, I changed my life around and now I know I can help change my community too.”
-TE Youth Organizer

Needs Statement

Support our Youth Organizing Efforts:  TE employs urban youth as community organizers to shift the social norms among their peers away from violence and other negative behaviors and toward positive community involvement. $4,800 supports a youth salary for one year. $3,750 pays for a series of youth-led community improvement initiatives. The total budget per program site per year is some $250,000.
TE Youth Peace Conferences:  In 1993, at the first Youth Peace Conference in Boston, TE brokered a lasting peace treaty among five rival gangs. The conference has become an annual event in each of our targeted cities that brings diverse youth to address pressing community issues. The entirely youth-led events include original stage shows in which teens present their social change ideas through skits, poetry, music, dance, speeches and videos. Approximately 800 youth attend each day-long conference, which costs about $9,000 to implement.
TE Studios: This youth-run record label costs $60,000 per year to operate. $10,000 supports the consultation from resident artists. $900 copies the CD created each year and $1,200 covers events, including the album release party. Remainder funds adult salaries and youth artist stipends.

CEO Statement

In these tough economic times, Teen Empowerment has continued to give jobs and leadership training to high-risk youth living in difficult urban communities. We set high expectations for TE Youth Organizers, and they respond by creating amazing programming for their peers.

We recognize the skills, talents, capacity, and motivation of the young people we hire to work for community change. These youth spend part of each day thinking about their neighborhoods and developing ways to reduce violence and other issues. They lead police-youth dialogues; organize community meetings, conferences, and events; work to resolve neighborhood conflicts; and advocate with policy makers for changes that help meet the basic needs of youth in their communities. For most, this work changes the  trajectory of their lives in a positive direction.With the help of our supporters, we can expand our current programs, saving many more young lives, bringing hope to beleaguered neighborhoods, and using the energy of young people to create a more livable society for us all.

Our 20 years of experience show definitively that, when given a chance, many high-risk youth are willing and able to lead successful movements for change. In Somerville, for example, Teen Empowerment has successfully worked with city officials and other nonprofits to shift the youth culture. The result has been dramatic reductions in crime, violence, teen suicide, and drug use.

Thank you for your support.

Board Chair Statement

In 1996 I attended a voter registration rally for Roxbury youth and families organized by Teen Empowerment. I was so impressed with the leadership skills of the youth, their persuasive messages, and the authentic discussions. I know that event changed lives, including my own. Twenty years and dozens of events later, I am still truly inspired by how TE empowers young people to find their voices and advocate for change.

Now, I am honored to chair the board of the Center for Teen Empowerment.  There are so many stories of how and why Teen Empowerment works and has made a difference in so many people’s lives. I invite you to join me in supporting this important program and hearing some of these stories.

Geographic Area Served

In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.
Greater Boston Region-Jamaica Plain Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Roxbury Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-Dorchester Neighborhood
Greater Boston Region-All Neighborhoods
Teen Empowerment works mainly in the Dorchester and Roxbury neighborhoods of Boston, MA; in Somerville, MA; and in Rochester, NY.

Organization Categories

  1. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs
  2. -
  3. -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Boston Youth Organizing Initiative

At each of our sites, 2-3 adult staff and 12-14 youth organizers work together every day to:
  • identify those issues they consider most critical in their community,
  • design an action strategy that will involve others in having a positive impact on these issues, and
  • implement the strategy.

Our youth organizing work focuses on building community among diverse populations. Within the youth organizer groups, youth from rival neighborhoods or factions are brought together to work towards common goals. Youth organizers then craft strategies to bring themselves and their peers into dialogue across lines of conflict. Often this involves working to create awareness among youth that turf battles shrink everyone's horizons. Another significant aspect of this work has been dialogues between police and youth to help resolve some of the misunderstanding and tension that is counterproductive to producing safe neighborhoods for all.

Our youth-organizing sites bring the concerns and the voices of youth to the table across a spectrum of community concerns and issues. TE's sites serve the Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain areas of Boston.

Budget  $501,334.00
Category  Youth Development Youth Leadership
Population Served Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  --
Program Long-Term Success  --
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  --

Rochester Youth Organizing Initiative

Teen Empowerment Rochester employs low-income, urban youth to identify issues in their communities and organize strategies to address those issues through three main projects:
  • Southwest Youth Organizing Project: 12 youth work every afternoon to plan and implement events that involve their peers and community adults in improving the Southwest neighborhood  
  • Youth-Police Unity Project: employs teens to work with police to deign and implement initiatives involving large numbers of youth and police in improving relationships between the two groups.

Budget  $210,486.00
Category  Youth Development, General/Other Youth Leadership
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent At-Risk Populations Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  --
Program Long-Term Success  --
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  --

Somerville Youth Organizing Initiative

TE hires Somerville youth (ages 14-21) to work after-school and in the summer to identify the most pressing concerns in their community and organize a strategy to address those issues. Youth organizers work for 8-10 hours per week during the school year and 20 hours per week during the summer. In addition, TE runs the Somerville Youth Council and facilitates the Somerville Youth Workers Network.
Budget  $277,533.00
Category  Youth Development Youth Leadership
Population Served Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  --
Program Long-Term Success  Hired and trained 100 youth organizers and supported them in planning and implementing over 200 initiatives involving more than 6,500 youth and adults.
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  --

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Mr. Stanley Pollack
CEO Term Start Apr 1992
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience Stanley Pollack, Executive Director of Teen Empowerment founded The Center in 1992 to refine and replicate The Teen Empowerment Model in Boston and subsequently in urban communities around the U.S. He developed the Teen Empowerment Model through over twenty-five years of direct youth work, program development, and consulting experience.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Doug Ackley Rochester Director --
Stephanie Berkowitz Director of Exteral Relations --
Sheri Bridgeman Boston Director --
Heang Ly Director of Consulting and Training --
Daniel McLaughlin Somerville Director --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


Teen Empowerment works with a number of organizations in Boston, Somerville, and Rochester. Some of our closest collaborators include our landlords Nuestra CDC and the City of Somerville as well as the Rochester, Somerville and Boston Police. We also actively participate in a number of coalitions and collaborative to work with other organizations on issues of mutual importance. These include the High Risk Youth Network, Somerville Youth Workers Network, Metro Mayors Shannon Collaborative/ Gang Taskforce, and Higher Ground.  Whenever possible, we work together with other youth and community groups on events and initiatives.TE also reaches out to organizations that are not youth-specific in order to build partnerships and community in our targeted neighborhoods.

We also have a national partnership with America's Promise Alliance.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 15
Number of Part Time Staff 127
Number of Volunteers 30
Number of Contract Staff 3
Staff Retention Rate % 93%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 6
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 11
Hispanic/Latino: 3
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 10
Male: 11
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Management Succession Plan --
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Ms. Lauren Lapat
Board Chair Company Affiliation none
Board Chair Term Oct 2015 - Oct 2016
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Peter Bekarian Jones Lang Lasalle Voting
Mr. George Bevis Engineer and philanthropist Voting
Mr. John Brown Boston Police Department Voting
John Connolly President, Wedgwood-Crane & Connolly; Alderman at Large; City of Somerville --
Mr. Michelle Escarfullery Harvard Clinical Research Institute Voting
David Fallon Chief of Police, Somerville, MA Voting
George Gilmer State Street Voting
Mrs. Marikay Hines-Corcoran KPMG Voting
Mrs. Frenia Hunter MBTA Voting
Mr. Joe Jackson Madison Park Technical-Vocational High School Voting
Ms. Lauren Lapat Lives in the Balance Voting
Molly Richter Partners HealthCare Voting
Mr. Jeffrey Strassman Grant Thornton LLP Voting
Colleen White Global Research Institute at Boston College Voting
Dr. Jason Willis Rochester Institute of Technology Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Hanif Abdul-Wahid Monroe County Department of Planning and Development --
Mr. Scott Burdett Flaum Management Voting
Dr. Rick DeJesus-Reuff St. John Fisher College Voting
Ms. Judith Kaplan Community Planning Associates Voting
Dr. John Klofas Rochester Institute of Technology --
Wade Norwood Finger Lakes Health Systems Voting
Mr. Edward Nowak retired public defender Voting
Mr. James Sheppard Rochester Police Department --
Sr. Barbara Staropoli Sisters of St. Joseph Voting
Ms. Lori VanAuken The Children’s Institute Voting
Mr. Van Henri White Attorney at Law Voting
Mr. James Wolk Nixon Peabody LLP Voting

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 5
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 9
Hispanic/Latino: 1
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 5
Male: 10
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % --
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Audit
  • Board Development / Board Orientation
  • Board Governance
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Executive
  • Finance

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Fiscal Year July 01, 2016 to June 30, 2017
Projected Income $1,767,567.00
Projected Expense $1,761,421.00
Form 990s

2016 990

2015 990

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

2011 990

2010 990

2009 990

2008 990

Audit Documents

2016 Audit

2015 Audit

2014 Audit

2013 Audit

2012 Audit

2012 Audit

2011 Audit

2010 Audit

2009 Audit

2008 Audit

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $1,823,669 $1,369,781 $1,540,500
Total Expenses $1,689,258 $1,474,118 $1,247,504

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $414,706 $438,680 $278,525
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $414,706 $438,680 $278,525
Individual Contributions $718,605 $772,287 $1,054,069
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $311,045 $138,132 $139,043
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- -- --
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events $376,038 $10,272 $59,976
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $3,275 $10,410 $8,887

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $1,396,277 $1,202,025 $989,803
Administration Expense $221,145 $188,520 $187,170
Fundraising Expense $71,836 $83,573 $70,531
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.08 0.93 1.23
Program Expense/Total Expenses 83% 82% 79%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 5% 7% 5%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $605,885 $456,775 $583,107
Current Assets $603,984 $452,931 $574,192
Long-Term Liabilities $0 -- $0
Current Liabilities $59,349 $44,650 $66,645
Total Net Assets $546,536 $412,125 $516,462

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 10.18 10.14 8.62

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

Teen Empowerment’s goals are to:

·         Have a profound, long-lasting impact on youth engaged in leadership positions, including building their leadership and employment skills and social-emotional health.

·         Shift social norms among youth in the targeted areas from negative behavioral norms—such as drug use, gangs, and other destructive behaviors—to norms that value supportive relationships with peers and adults and engagement in the process of establishing a positive community environment.

·         Address the root causes of violence and other issues in the targeted communities by increasing community involvement in youth development, building tolerance and community among diverse constituencies, and building the leadership, job readiness, and life skills of neighborhood youth.


Currently, we are working to achieve these goals in the Boston, MA neighborhoods of Roxbury and North Dorchester, in the City of Somerville, MA and in the Southwest quadrant of Rochester, NY by working with low-income youth ages 14 to 21 and community adults. Our short-term objectives over the next 3 years are to annually:

·         Formulate a diverse, well-trained, high functioning Youth Organizer (YO) group of 12-14 at each site

·         Improve the communication and interpersonal skills of YOs.

·         Increase YOs’ confidence and sense of competency in a range of skills and settings.

·         Improve the emotional, social, and academic achievement and civic engagement of Youth Organizers

·         Engage 5,000-7,000 youth and adults in efforts to improve their communities.

·         Reduce violence and gang activity in these neighborhoods as measured by police statistics

·         Address the root causes of violence by increasing community involvement in youth development efforts, building tolerance and community among diverse constituencies in the neighborhood, and building the leadership, job readiness, and life skills of neighborhood youth

·         Increase youth and community involvement in civic events, increase investment in local government as an avenue for progress, and introduce youth to positive, productive, and peaceful modes of change.

·         Involve large numbers of low-income, urban youth in efforts to improve their communities and increase youth voice in the decision-making process around policies and practices that affect them.


TE uses a number of evaluative instruments and methods to assess the effectiveness of our efforts and make changes to improve the program. Youth organizers and staff members work together to set goals and evaluate each initiative and document their efforts and the results for future use. In addition, youth complete intake and exit evaluation surveys based on evidenced based tools. Collection and analysis is completed with the assistance of UMass Boston faculty.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

The primary focus of our work is our youth organizing initiatives, which utilize the Teen Empowerment Model. Program Activities include:

Hiring: The program begins each cycle (Summer and School Year) by hiring a core group of at-risk and proven-risk youth, including those involved in the juvenile justice and foster care systems, to identify the root causes of the violence and crime plaguing their community and to organize a series of initiatives to encourage large numbers of their peers to turn away from negative behaviors and toward positive community involvement. In the summer and again in the fall, TE staff at each of our two Boston sites hires 10-14 teens to work as Youth Organizers through an intensive process that includes:

·         extensive recruitment of 150 to 250 applicants

·         a first, two-hour interactive group dialogue session/interview (approximately 10 youth in each group) followed by a ten-minute individual interviews

·         a second interview, similar to the first, conducted with about 1/3 of the applicants


In the interactive interview/dialogue sessions, participants build relationships, brainstorm the issues youth face in their community and think critically together about the root causes of the issues and possible solutions. TE staff use this process to identify individuals with the potential to think deeply about community issues, positively influence their peers, and work to develop into strong leaders. The sessions also serve as focus groups, contributing valuable information on what youth in the neighborhood perceive as the most pressing issues they face and helps the youth that participate to build positive relationships.

Training: Once hired, 12 youth/site meet 4-5 afternoons per week for 3 hours a day during the school year and 5 hours per day in the summer. During the first two weeks, youth organizers complete an intensive training using TE’s Leadership Development curriculum, designed to: 

·         build group and individual relationships;

·         examine the issues identified in the hiring process and place them in a larger social context;

·         develop a strategy to address youth violence and create a year-long action plan timeline;

·         plan the first strategic initiative using TE’s Ten-Step Planning Process; and,

·         orient youth to the work contract, which establishes expectations for behavior and clearly outlines the consequences if youth organizers fail to meet those expectations.

Community Change Initiatives: 
Following the initial training, each group implements a community change strategy. As part of this effort, youth organize at each site conduct 2-3 large initiatives reaching up to 500 youth each and 10-40 small initiatives engaging 25-75 youth each. Large initiatives are designed to involve local youth in community improvement efforts, such as ending violence and gang activity, and are implemented with the participation and cooperation of neighborhood residents, other organizations, business owners, and police. Smaller initiatives are most often precursors to the larger initiatives. They include conflict resolution and dialogue sessions, arts-based teen café nights and stage shows, community forums and meetings, healing ceremonies, cultural celebrations, and workshops.


Behavior Management and Support System: At the beginning of each week, the groups participate in a Contract/Feedback Session. Adult staff leads the group through processes designed to surface important such as the need to follow through on responsibilities, dealing with conflict productively, maintaining a positive attitude, and consistent attention and motivation to excel at individual project tasks and group work sessions. They then provide training and practice in feedback skills and give every group member the opportunity to give and receive feedback with their peers and adult staff.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

The Center for Teen Empowerment is a well established organization with annual budget of about $2 million. Teen Empowerment receives and administers state and local government grants, foundation grants and other funds for similar programs and is well equipped to do so. Teen Empowerment has seasoned administrative staff members, sophisticated accounting procedures, and meets all federal and state guidelines for nonprofit administration.


The Center is also very well equipped to monitor and successfully implement the programmatic aspects of our youth organizing projects. Since 1992, Teen Empowerment has engaged low-income urban youth as powerful and effective leaders of a movement to address the root causes of the challenges they face and to involve their peers in positive ways with their communities.  Teen Empowerment’s highly structured approach empowers at-risk youth with the skills they need to successfully address their social-emotional health and development while also positively influencing large numbers of their peers and impacting their community. TE has an experienced program staff to implement and oversee program operations.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

TE uses a number of evaluative instruments and methods to assess the effectiveness of our efforts and make changes to improve the program. Youth organizers and staff members work together to set goals and evaluate each initiative and document their efforts and the results for future use. In addition, youth complete intake and exit evaluation surveys based on evidenced based tools. Collection and analysis is completed with the assistance of UMass Boston faculty. Last year’s results included:


On year-end impact surveys, youth organizers reported:

·         100% learned skills that helped prepare them for the future

·         100% were proud of what they accomplished and thought it had a positive impact on the community

·         100% built positive relationships with youth and adults they would not otherwise have known

·         100% felt more responsible for their community

·         100% gained self-respect

·         90% gained leadership skills

·         80% displayed increased level of empowerment

·         70% displayed increased civic engagement

·         70% displayed increase social capital

Moreover, Teen Empowerment is working to achieve community level change. We monitor police and health department statistics with the help of the cities where we work and independent research has shown that our efforts have contributed to significant decreases in violence, crime, substance abuse, and suicide among youth in our targeted neighborhoods.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?