Nonprofit or community organization
Last modified: January 14, 2013, 7:25 PM
Tree Street Youth supports the youth of Lewiston-Auburn, Maine through academics, the arts and athletics. We provide Lewiston-Auburn youth with a safe space that encourages healthy physical, social, emotional, and academic development while building unity across lines of difference.
The Tree Street Youth Center began as an outgrowth of a local homework help program which was started after community parents expressed the desire to support their children academically yet lacked the language and academic skills to do so. Due to the relationships built over time and the demonstration of an exceptional level of cultural competency, families urged the local program to continue expanding the homework help program to ensure that their kids would receive the support that they themselves could not provide.
The homework help program, which began in 2005, offered 40-60 local youth an opportunity to access learning opportunities that were uniquely tailored to meet their needs. This program was supported by shared staff of the Refugee Assistance Program, a volunteer coordinator sponsored by AmeriCorps, and a host of community volunteers. For six years, the homework help program was offered and served as an invaluable resource to families in the community.
In 2011, with growing needs beyond just homework help in the community a group of individuals met to discuss the possibilities of starting a summer youth program to maintain and cultivate the relationships with the students that had been forged through the work at the homework help program. This group included Julia Sleeper, current Tree Street Youth Executive Director and former AmeriCorps for the homework help program and Kim Sullivan, a current Bates College student.
As the Center's founders, Julia and Kim understood that in order for the program to be effective, it needed to be free of charge and offered at the neighborhood level. This way, barriers such as lack of transportation, cost, and cultural competency would not limit access as they had seen happen with other programs.
A vacant building located in the heart of the downtown residential community and across from the local elementary school was the perfect fit. With the help of several community partners, the rented space was secured and led to the mobilization of a generous amount of community resources to make the summer program a reality.
In July 2011, Tree Street Youth Center opened to meet the challenge of providing low-income youth the opportunity to learn and grow in a nurturing environment. Located in the heart of downtown Lewiston at 144 Howe Street, it serves as a vibrant hub of daily youth-driven activity for 120-150 students in grades K-12 and is the only center solely focused on meeting the educational and social needs of at-risk youth. The Center is strategically located directly across from the Governor Longley Elementary School and on the walk route to both Lewiston Middle and High Schools.
As a community-based nonprofit, we rely heavily on the support of volunteers to assist in carrying out the day-to-day activities of the Center. Volunteers help us reduce the costs of program delivery and serve in a variety of capacities according to the Center's current needs.