YMCA of Greater Erie

Alex Staley editedFifteen year old Alex Staley admits that recently he started to get into some bad stuff – just being a teenager.  That wound Alex in front of a judge for truancy and the possibility of expulsion from school  But, it was because of his love of music at the Downtown Y Teen Center, that the judge gave him a second chance.  “Music is my life. My teacher Corey Cook understands the harsh backgrounds we come from.  He helps me make positive out of negative,” says Alex.  Corey’s program, LifeThruMusic, is an innovative music-mentoring program that integrates traditional music training with the latest technological updates in the music industry. In addition to music training, Corey incorporates a business-training model that prepares students with business skills geared toward the industry of music and connects them to music professionals already working in the field.  “I sing, act, paint, write and play music.  I portray my life music – my struggles, my beliefs, stuff I’m trying to overcome.  When I finish a song, it blows my mind because I feel so accomplished.  I appreciate where I’ve been.”

Our Impact

All kids and teens need a safe and productive place to go. Opened in October 2015, the Downtown Y Teen Center sees about 40 teens daily who participate in community-based programming that offers mentorship, academic enrichment, creative expression, positive values and conflict resolution.

Parent involvement at the Teen Center jumped to over 90 percent and close to 70 percent of parents have given permission to the Y to access the “parent portal” at school enabling us to monitor school grades and behavior.  More than 75 percent of teens keep coming back and tell us they find a safe and welcoming environment.  Of our total attendance, 67 percent of teens are enrolled in our structured programming ranging from financial literacy to conflict resolution and college prep.