YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley | Programs & Services

Phyllis Wheatley Center

YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley places the health and safety of its clients, staff, members, and supporters at the highest level of importance. As we monitor the COVID-19 status in our service area, we are basing our decisions for program and facility operations on recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our local and state authorities, Knox County Schools and others. In an effort to promote social distancing in our workplace, YWCA is suspending all group meetings and activities, including rentals at all facilities, until further notice.

We will follow the lead of Knox County Schools once Spring Break is over. If Knox Country schools close, YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Center will also be closed.

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, led by director Kathy Mack, work tirelessly to provide youth with the tools necessary to overcome obstacles and to succeed in school and beyond.

After School Enrichment Program

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. Registration for Summer 2020 will open in March - please check back soon!

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.