Since 1999 the CanTeen, the only afterschool teen program in the northern suburbs, relocated nine times. The CanTeen offers a safe place for the teens to go and hang out with their friends, play games, eat and make food while connecting with each other. Their mission is to encourage youth to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives through positive relationships with adult role models in a safe, structured environment and activities.
After finally purchasing a home adjacent to the Cicero North Syracuse High School, and with donations of dollars and sweat equity from the community, the house was renovated and ready for the final phase of the exterior work. A $10,000 community grant from the Foundation enabled the building of a 25’ x 20’ deck to create more space for the teens to utilize. With the completion of the deck the organization has been able to extend their program space to outdoor activities
After turning to the community for help in renovating the building the Friends of the CanTeen witnessed an unexpected willingness of residents to help out, whether it was donating materials, equipment or labor towards the project. They were also pleased to learn that the community was not only more familiar with the program than they had known but also embraced the projects and the teen center in general.
When some of the participants first returned back to the center the afternoon of the first day of school, they couldn’t wait to hold their first Teen Council meeting outdoors and utilize their grill on the deck, “just like a normal, everyday home would have!”
While the Foundation emphasizes capacity building, we do provide grants for programs that specifically engage the community in both their development and execution. Our support for the CanTeen Center is an excellent example of this.