University of Denver
School of Social Work
2148 South High Street
Denver , CO 80208
Phone: (303) 871-2526
Fax: (303) 871-2845
Title: Empowering Disadvantaged and High Risk Youth: A Community University Partnership in Public Housing Communities
Project Director: Jeffrey M. Jensen, Ph.D.
Project Amount Funded (FY 2006): $220,678
Target Population: Minority Youth, Grades 6-10
The Annex Youth Center targets youth from grades 6-10 in three public housing community sites in Denver , Colorado , and is an outgrowth of the Bridge Program which focused on meeting the needs of at-risk elementary school youth. The goal of the Center is to empower youth to make healthy choices, acquire positive attitudes and behaviors, and achieve their personal and academic potential. The Annex Youth Center is a partnership between the University of Denver School of Social Work, The Denver Housing Authority, Denver Public Schools , La Connexion Mentoring Program, and the Binning Family Foundation. Participants engage in two afternoon activities per week and two Saturday morning sessions per month, in addition to a four-week summer program focused around the areas of academic enrichment, personal development, cultural enrichment, and career development. The academic component of the program includes after school tutoring and technology skills development, as well as close contact with participants' teachers. Personal development and wellness is supported by the use of the Youth Matters curriculum and participation in a year-long Outdoor Leadership Program. Youth take part in the Culture Club, a multi-faceted program designed to help them understand and accept gender, racial, and ethnic differences in society. In addition, participants gain exposure to a variety of careers including those in the health and biomedical field as well as college preparation training. Undergraduate students from the University of Denver Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning and the Center for Multicultural Excellence serve as mentors and academic tutors to participants at the youth center. Youth take part in community service events associated with personal development and wellness, such as working with elders, neighborhood clean-ups, creative arts, and mentoring young children. To facilitate parental involvement, parents are expected to attend monthly education sessions to support their children's educational goals. As an incentive to attend, parent participation includes free parenting resources and guidebooks, no-cost community dinners, and involvement in Advisory Board decisions and activities.