Youth Learning Centers

YWCA Helps Children Boost Reading Skills

student, literacy
YWCA students are remotely supported by our team of Youth Learning Center Coordinators in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

YWCA Central Carolinas has a long history of providing free, high-quality out-of-school programs to students K-5th throughout Mecklenburg and Union county. Our goal is to provide each student with an exemplary academic experience filled with fun, personal growth and parent participation by utilizing the following core competencies:

  1. Literacy Focus
  2. Parent Engagement
  3. Character Development and Cultural Enrichment

We support children in their schoolwork while offering ground instruction and engagement in historically and culturally responsive literacy. This closely aligns our youth programs students to YWCA’s larger mission, with lesson plans and activities within the context of historically/culturally responsive literacy to cultivate the genius of each student.

For more information on our program and other quick facts, you can review our Youth Learning Center Handbook and program flyer (as well as our flyer in Spanish). You can also learn more about how we’re serving students and their families by contacting our Youth Learning Center Coordinators; their contact information is listed below.

Literacy Focus

YWCA’s literacy-based program is designed to improve students’ reading skills, with programming provided after school each day and all day during breaks and teacher workdays. Our staff utilizes i-Ready which is an online program that strengthens children’s literacy skills and enables them to be better readers. The highly engaging lessons provide a thoroughly immersive experience, guiding students on their path to becoming thorough and analytical readers. Detailed, easy-to-read reports help our administrators understand what each individual student “can do” and their “next steps” needed to strengthen their reading and vocabulary comprehension. iReady measures students’ progress in 5 different skill sets; phonological awareness, phonics, high frequency words, vocabulary and comprehension (both literature and informational); all components of mastering literacy.

reading, at home learning, homeschool
YWCA's student reading 'Sulwe' at home during the pandemic.

Parent Engagement

Family support is an important component in our Youth Learning Centers. With 50 years of experience in high-quality youth programming, we know there is a direct correlation between parental support and the academic success of children. With that in mind, we teach the
Love and Logic Method of parenting. The Love and Logic approach is built around the science of crafting caring and respectful relationships between the parent and child. An authentic, loving connection between parents and their children is the root of a healthy, thriving relationship. It sounds easy enough but never in history have parents been faced with so many challenges. Our approach provides our youth’s parents with a variety of simple and effective strategies for parenting their children and creating calm and loving solutions.

Character Development and Cultural Enrichment

Our after-school and summer programs provide a safe learning environment for academic advancement and personal growth enrichment. Our staff strive to create a supportive environment to enable our youth to practice their decision-making skills in a positive, thoughtful way. We provide an assortment of extracurricular activities such as cultural activities, field trips, health and wellness activities and community service projects. Our partners include The Arts Empowerment Project, The Girl Scouts Hornets’ Nest Council, Promising Pages, Boy Scouts of America, Girls on the Run, Clayworks and many more.

Park Road Student smiling

Real Results

In the 2019-20 school year, the number of students on reading level increased by 56 percent, and the number of students that were 2 or more reading levels behind shrank by 25 percent.

Hours of Operation

A majority of YWCA’s Youth Learning Centers are operating remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Southside, Park Road and Willow Oaks Centers are offering in-person support to a limited number of students. 

Students K – 5 throughout Mecklenburg and Union Counties are in virtual lessons with YWCA Coordinators from 3:30pm to 5:30pm, Monday through Friday.


YWCA Central Carolinas has a long history of providing high-quality after-school and summer programs for children in low-income areas at no cost to their families. Our centers are located in public housing communities, neighborhood recreation buildings and low-socioeconomic neighborhoods. 

Mecklenburg County Feeder Schools
2020/2021 School Year

(Feeder schools provide transportation directly to our Youth Learning Centers when in-person teaching is in session.)

Albemarle Road Elementary
Billingsville Leadership Academy
Charlotte Choice Charter
Devonshire Elementary
Dilworth/Latta Elementary
Dilworth/Sedgefield Elementary
Hidden Valley Elementary
Hornets Nest Elementary
Huntingtowne Farms Elementary
J.H. Gunn Elementary
Lebanon Road Elementary
Marie G. Davis
Montclaire Elementary
Pinewood Elementary
Piney Grove Elementary
Shamrock Garden Elementary
Stoney Creek Elementary

Union County Feeder Schools
2020/2021 School Year

(Feeder schools provide transportation directly to our Youth Learning Centers when in-person teaching is in session.)

Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts
Rock Rest Elementary
Union Academy
Walter Bicket Elementary
Wingate Elementary