YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley | Programs & Services

Phyllis Wheatley Center

YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center

A trusted East Knoxville community center since 1920, YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center is the main facility for the YWCA's youth programs in East Tennessee. Phyllis Wheatley Center staff and volunteers work tirelessly to provide youth with the tools necessary to overcome obstacles and to succeed in school and beyond.

National Youth Violence Prevention Week

April 12-16, 2021 is National Youth Violence Prevention Week (NYVPW). This is a time for youth to lead communities on effective strategies to prevent youth violence. This campaign is a week-long event with each day of the week corresponding to a specific challenge for our community. The goal is to encourage positive community engagement and promote a sense of community responsibility. See what the Phyllis Wheatley Center is doing all week long by clicking here!

After School Enrichment Program

COVID-19 Update: Phyllis Wheatley Center School Closure Policy:

The YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley’s Phyllis Wheatley Center will comply with Knox County Schools decisions regarding suspension of in-person learning and transition to virtual learning. The Phyllis Wheatley Center will follow the Knox County Schools’ closure policy for Vine Middle School for the duration determined by Knox County Schools. Stay tuned for more information posted in the event of Vine Middle School closures.

Middle-school is tough, but the vibrant staff at Phyllis Wheatley Center make it a whole lot easier. After-School Enrichment Program (ASEP) provides a safe, nurturing environment with structure and accountability for middle-school students at no cost. Services are available from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily during the school year, with occasional extended hours during holiday breaks and teacher in-service days.

ASEP works to encourage academic success, leadership, civic involvement, healthy decision-making, and positive family engagement. Focus areas include academics, teen pregnancy, youth and family violence, substance use, childhood obesity, and future planning. Students participate in daily academic enhancement, weekly prevention programming, regular physical activity, and choose from a variety of educational blocks.

ASEP has trained staff available to meet families in the community and provide support to ensure success among enrolled students. Family outreach includes parenting groups, home visits, onsite and community meetings, and family events.

ASEP is funded by the United Way of Greater Knoxville, Tennessee Department of Education Lottery for Education After School Programs, Tennessee Department of Health Minority Health Initiative, and contributions from foundations and individuals.

Summer Kids in Play

SKIP is a popular summer option for families needing a safe place for their children during the summer break. This 8 week-long summer day camp offers enriching programming for children, ages 5 to 14. Students enjoy the summer reading challenge, intensive swim lessons, working in the garden, and cooking classes. Students also enjoy weekly field trips to local attractions such as Ijams Nature Center, Muse Knoxville, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Zoo Knoxville.

SKIP focuses on keeping costs low for busy parents, cultivating a love of reading, and leading social and cultural development. Scholarships are available. Spots fill up fast, so families are encouraged to register early.

Reach Program

The Reach Program is a competitive, incentivized internship offered to young men and women, ages 15-18 years old. Students selected to participate in the program learn important skills for entering the workforce, including time management, accountability, conflict management, and financial literacy. Students meet with guest speakers from a variety of professions and have the opportunity to shadow professionals in a variety of careers.

Reducing Chronic Absenteeism (ReCAB)

Due to a recently identified need in the community, the Phyllis Wheatley Center began offering this evidence-based program in 2018 for students with significant absenteeism. 41% of youth served at the Phyllis Wheatley Center in 2016-17 were absent from school 11 times or more; 42% of youth were tardy 21 times or more. A dedicated social service professional works to identify the root causes and circumstances of each student's chronic absenteeism. In partnership with the student and their guardian, staff create an individualized plan to ensure that the student gets to school on time, every day.

Strong Women Strong Futures

We are proud members of the Women’s Fund of East Tennessee (WFET) network, a group of nonprofit organizations working together to change the narrative in our region so that girls, women, and caregivers feel supported and encouraged to pursue a postsecondary education.

The network is leading the Strong Women Strong Futures campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the opportunities provided by postsecondary education, whether that’s taking classes at a community college, getting a certificate from a technical school, or attending a four-year college. Our goal is that more girls and young women see post-secondary education as a real and viable option and ultimately enroll in it.

This effort is important for our region. Nearly one in six women in Tennessee live in poverty, and half of Tennessee families depend on a female breadwinner. Having a postsecondary education can lead to economic security: higher income, more stable employment, and job benefits for our women and girls.

Postsecondary education can open doors for women and girls and their families, thereby expanding opportunities for all people in East Tennessee.

Learn more about our campaign here!