Q:

How do you open a teen center?

A:

Opening a teen center requires a visionary leader with the passion and skills to work with teens, plus an equally passionate group of adults willing to commit to the project for at least three years. It's often difficult for teen centers to find funding and community support.

  1. Gather your team

    Bring together the committed adults who want to see the teen center succeed. Have them brainstorm regarding the center's organization and activities. Discuss potential problems the center might face, including the possibilities of gang activity, drug and alcohol use, and loitering.

  2. Write a three-year business plan

    Create a three-year budget for your teen center. Identify funding sources to keep the center afloat financially. While government grants are often available to fund individual projects, they typically don't cover operating costs. You must have a funding source ready to underwrite your day-to-day expenses. Obtain any needed permits and licensing. Decide whether your center needs to incorporate as a non-profit. Obtain insurance to cover liability and property protection.

  3. Pick a focus for your program

    Get to know the teens you plan on serving in your neighborhood to determine their needs and to figure out which of those needs your center can meet. Decide whether you want to focus on mentoring or recreation. Define what success looks like for your teen center, starting on a small level.

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