On the Rebound: Teen Center Back to Helping Youth Following Fire

As a safe and supportive teen center with a mission to help create healthy habits and values in students, Building Twentyone proudly offers an after-school program running from 3-6 p.m. for kids in seventh grade to 12th grade. The program provides homework help, tutoring and coaching to help kids find their purpose in the community and in school. Executive Director Benjamin Schartow discussed with Greater Lansing Business Monthly the hopes and hurdles Building Twentyone faces.

What kind of programs/classes does Building Twentyone offer to the community?

Building Twentyone offers lots of programs, including a CrossFit class at a nearby gym included with membership. We also offer culinary arts and technology classes to expand students’ knowledge base. Elevate is a particularly exciting program based on a coaching structure and mentorship. We provide an adult mentor to a group of seven or eight students for a 10-week life-coaching program intended to get kids going in the right direction. Once the after-school program closes, an indoor skate park opens to the public for a small fee to help support the after-school program.

What does it take to become a member? What opportunities does membership provide?

This year the membership program is brand new. We used to offer our classes and programs in more of an a-la-carte format but found that was actually more expensive as some programs were $49 or $100. Now, for just $10 per month – or $85 per year – teens will have access to all Building Twentyone provides as well as a safe space to spend the hours after school.

Are scholarships available to those in need?

We absolutely offer scholarships to those in need. By the seventh and eighth grade, you need to be responsible for yourself, and it is important kids understand everything costs money. There is a one-page application that a student will need to fill out in order to be considered for a scholarship, which helps to show us how motivated they are to participate.

How can someone donate to Building Twentyone?

The best way to donate financially is through our website. It costs just $85 to donate a one-year scholarship for a kid in need, which is actually cheaper than the monthly fee. We are also always looking for volunteers, as that is how we keep Building Twentyone up, running and affordable. We are always looking for people to come hang out with the students, provide tutoring, help with homework or even run a program. The center has gone through some hard times this year, with the building burning down. 

Has Building Twentyone been able to operate despite not having its central location?

There was a fire that devastated the building during repair work that had been implemented. We are still operating, but we are now in the building next door. While we were able to reopen just four weeks after the fire, we now need more help than ever. We have a list of items on our website that would be much appreciated if donated – and, as always, we are looking for volunteers to help run the various programs we offer.

How can people get involved in the rebuilding efforts?

Building Twentyone is currently looking for a teen advisory council to help us figure out what we will offer moving forward. We are also welcoming donations through physical items, financially and with people’s time. Please check our website to see how you can get involved. We have administrative needs like any nonprofit and are looking to fill a few positions to help with the new center. We are hiring a coordinator and someone to help with development as we grow. Visit buildingtwentyone.org for more information

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