Plymouth Christian Youth Center, now in its 50th year, is an invaluable community resource. Especially at this time of academic crisis for African American youth. The North Minneapolis-based institution empowers and encourages youngsters to recognize and fulfill their potential. Plymouth Christian Youth Center, now in its 50th year, is an invaluable community resource. Especially at this time of academic crisis for African American youth. The North Minneapolis-based institution empowers and encourages youngsters to recognize and fulfill their potential. Life skills are honed. They face the world with actual prospects. In fact, PCYC’s Alternative School is recognized as a leader in the education of disenfranchised youth. The health clinic and young families programs facilitate good health and effective parenting for PCYC kids and their families. PCYC campuses are a source of pride in the neighborhoods it serves, included the rejuvenated West Broadway area commercial corridor.
To date, it has served more than 100,000 young people with enormous success, including providing upwards of $104,000 worth in college scholarship money since 1989 to 141 alternative school graduates. PCYC executive director Anne L. Long spoke with Insight News about the institution.
Insight News: Just how successful has Plymouth Christian Youth Center been?
Anne Long: In my 31 years with PCYC and as a Northside resident, I have seen hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of children and youth truly increase their academic, social and vocational skills, broaden their horizons, have greater hope for the future and begin to take on the role of contributing their own gifts and talents to the betterment of the community. The best examples come from the words of those young people, themselves. I got an email from a former alternative school student who now lives in Arizona and happened to look us up on the web. He tells me he runs a construction business and that he turned his life around because of the PCYC Alternative School. He said he wasn’t even able to put words on paper when he came to us because of traumatic early experiences in school, but, he said, one of our teachers believed in him and didn’t give up on his overcoming his block and learning to express himself in writing. We have so many stories like this.
IN: What is on the immediate horizon for the organization?
AL: Cultural arts, technology, and enhancing educational achievement of our young people are on our immediate horizon. Program expansions according to our strategic plan have been happening, and need to be sustained. Key among them is the continuation of our theater arts program for children and youth, fuller utilization of our computer technology for kids and for community members and always working to help our young people gain in education achievement. We’ve just received a state grant through the Enhancing Education through Technology initiative, which will put into place a program to teach computer skills to our alternative school students and they in turn will mentor children in the after school program on computer education. That will dovetail with the two people who will be joining us through an AmeriCorps Tech grant.
IN: What about long term?
AL: On the distant horizon – a year or so away – we will turn our sites to finishing the master plan for our Oliver campus, with renovation of sound and lighting of the Capri Theater, and creation of the Oliver Green Plaza. Our goal is for the Capri Theater and the adjoining plaza to play a major role in the revitalization of the West Broadway neighborhood and commercial corridor, offering a variety of cultural offerings, movies and entertainment for our Northside neighbors, as well as theater arts experiences for young people.
The Capri is the only remaining theater in North Minneapolis. It is a jewel of a community asset and we are committed to restoring it to its place of significance in the cultural life of the community. We also are committed to working with the Rev. Jerry McAfee at New Salem Missionary Baptist, from whom we rent space for our Lyndale Scho