Teens in Berkeley will now have a new place to hang out after school.
The YMCA-PG&E Teen Center, a joint project that took an abandoned building and turned it into a new downtown center for youth, will officially open its doors today.
The “Get Amped” open house will be held from 6:30 pm to 10 pm. at 2111 Martin Luther King Way. There will be booths scattered around the building showcasing the programs that will be offered. Some of these include after-school tutoring, college preparation classes, Youth in Government, which exposes teens to the mechanics of the state government, and Interact Club, a Rotary Club community service organization for teens. There will also be refreshments and musical performances.
“Our center is about engaging teens to take control of their own lives, to do well in school, take on leadership roles, think about career opportunities and how to get there,” said Tracy Hanna, the center’s executive director. “We want to help them become responsible adults when they leave high school.”
The $2.1 million, 8,000 square-foot center is the result of an unusual joint collaboration between the YMCA of the Central Bay Area (the new name for the Berkeley-Albany YMCA) and Pacific, Gas & Electric Company. In 2007, PG&E donated the building, which it no longer used, to the YMCA. It was the largest charitable contribution ever made by the utility. The YMCA then enlisted groups of teens to help design the building, hire an architectural firm to finesse the plans, hire a contractor, and determine the programming.
“The long-held dream of a teen center in Berkeley is finally a reality,” Fran Gallati, the CEO of the YMCA of the Central Bay Area said in a press release. “With the generous support of PG&E and others, the YMCA will provide more than 2,500 teens each year with the academic achievement, employment and career planning, and leadership development programs they want and need.”
Added Ed Salas, PG&E Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations: “This special project bridges many of our goals of environmental stewardship, community support and the innovative involvement of our young people who represent our future workforce.”
The Teen Center will open each day at 11:30 am, which means the 3,200 students at Berkeley High across the park can go there at lunch. While there is no lounge area, there is a nice rooftop garden, said Hanna.
“We are definitely a safe place for them to come, but we expect them to go back to school after lunch,” said Hanna.