Children's and teens' future success is fostered by caring adults who make them feel loved, competent, happy and healthy today. That’s why Y staff and volunteers are also mentors and role models, sharing a part of this very important—but very inspiring—responsibility in helping youth realize who they are and what they are capable of achieving.

The Y is closing the academic achievement gap with programs that improve students’ educational readiness, engagement, and outcomes, while helping them grow emotionally and physically.

Horizons: 21st Century Community Learning Centers

The 21st Century initiative is the only federal funding source dedicated exclusively to afterschool programs. The No Child Left Behind Act reauthorized 21st CCLC in 2002, transferring the administration of the grants from the U.S. Department of Education to state education agencies. Each state receives funds based on its share of Title I funding for low-income students.


Grants support afterschool programs that provide the following services to students attending high-poverty, low-performing schools:

  • Tutoring & homework help
  • Improved math & literacy skills
  • A variety of activities with student input and student choice in areas of recreation, arts, service, and technology
  • Development through enrichment opportunities, such as
    • fitness, nutrition, and wellness activities with YMCA instructors
    • spoken-word with POETIX
    • dance and performance art with LEAF in Schools and Streets
    • youth mentoring
    • recreational activities
    • community service
    • character and leadership skill-building
    • counseling program
    • diversity education
  • Field trips to local colleges and universities
  • Encouraged parent involvement and support

Download our Parent Handbook


Horizons: 21st Century Community Learning Centers are available in all Buncombe County middle schools.


For more information, please email Angel Chandler.


Early Learning Readiness (ELR)

The YMCA’s Early Learning Readiness Program is a free research-based community program that gives children ages 0 to 5 years high-quality physical, emotional, and cognitive experiences. Caregivers are given the confidence, tools, and support they need to be their children’s first teacher, ensuring that kids start kindergarten ready to learn.

According to Y-USA, 83% of caregivers reported that the program helped them prepare children in their care for school success, 86% noted it helped them to play with children in their care in a positive way, and 78% stated they were doing more activities with the children at home as a result of ELR.

Project RISE

The RISE in Project RISE stands for Reaching Individual Success through Empowerment. This program offers free afterschool academic support to underserved youth (grades 4-6) in the Buncombe County Schools who struggle in school due to limited language abilities, socioeconomic challenges, lack of caretaker attention, or other barriers.

The program emphasizes academic support by providing math and literacy tutoring led by certified BCS teachers. Most recent results show that 80% of participants increased their achievement in school.