Teen Thrive
  • According to research conducted at UCLA, teen participation in after school programs helps reduce risky behaviors like drug use or sexual activity.
  • Pew Research Center reports that only 20 percent of 16-17 year olds have a summer job, and that rate is lower among teens of color.
  • A study conducted by indicates that 75 percent of teens who volunteer report that their friends are also involved and that socializing with friends is a top incentive to volunteer.

The YMCA of the North, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, connects teens to opportunities to build leadership skills, serve their communities and prepare for the future through its Teen Thrive programs.

Studies show teens who participate in structured activities outside of school are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Additionally, young people who take on leadership roles as adolescents are more likely to serve in managerial positions as adults. The Y provides a safe place for teens that is flexible, engaging and accessible. Teens at the Y can choose to engage in programs that help them develop as leaders, participate in service learning and explore pathways to postsecondary and career opportunities.

“Middle school and high school students are not only leaders of tomorrow – they have the potential to lead our communities today,” said Glen Gunderson, president and CEO of the Y. “The Y connects young people to learning opportunities that empower them to make a difference now while setting themselves up for future success.”

Gunderson added that the Y’s goal is to eliminate barriers that keep teens from participating in leadership programs and discovering what interests them. The Y team designs programs that are flexible and can meet the needs of the local community. Some of these programs include:

  • Y’s Start and Leaders Club, after school programs that emphasize volunteer and leadership opportunities and help middle school and high school students make new friends in their community and the surrounding area
  • Workforce readiness programs, including internships, volunteering and work opportunities at YMCA locations
  • College access programs that help teens explore and prepare for postsecondary opportunities
  • Youth in Government, including the Model Assembly and Model United Nations conferences, empowering teens to learn about government, express themselves with confidence and build leadership skills

See how Faith’s involvement with the Y has given her a wealth of new experiences, including her first internship – YMCA Teen Thrive: Faith’s Story.

Discover how college student Victor uses his passion for youth work to give back and become a transformative leader within the Y – YMCA Teen Thrive: Victor’s Story.

Learn how Shaprea grew to be a strong leader by engaging in opportunities at the Y – YMCA Teen Thrive: Shaprea’s Story.

Hear how participating in Y’s Start helped Walter gain confidence and social-emotional skills – YMCA Teen Thrive: Walter’s Story.

Because the Y is a leading nonprofit committed to helping all learn, grow and thrive, financial assistance is available based on need. To learn more or to get involved, please visit