Phyllis Wheatley Center

Since 1954, the Phyllis Wheatley Center (PWC) has served the East Knoxville community and is the main facility for the YWCA’s youth programs in East Tennessee.  The 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.

After-School Enrichment Programming (ASEP)

Middle-school is tough, but the vibrant staff at the PWC 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)- Register here!

SKIP is a popular summer option for families needing a safe place for their kids 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, The 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 2019 is available here.

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.


Kathy Mack
Director of Phyllis Wheatley Center

Serving as Director of the Phyllis Wheatley Center since 2015, Kathy Mack leads staff in the delivery of current programming services and provides leadership toward expansion of programming.

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Bridget Baldau
Assistant Director of Phyllis Wheatley Center

Assistant Director of the Phyllis Wheatley Center, Bridget Baldau enjoys working with young people and leads the After-School Enrichment Program and Summer Kids in Play.

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