Neutral Zone was founded by teens to provide a venue for needed social, cultural, educational, recreational, and creative opportunities for Ann Arbor area high school teens. The mission statement of the center was written by youth and revised by the Teen Advisory Council and the Board of Directors in 2006. It continues to be the voice and heart which drives the center’s creative programs:
The Neutral Zone is a diverse, youth-driven teen center dedicated to promoting personal growth through artistic expression, community leadership and the exchange of ideas.
Supported by 9 full-time, 14 part-time staff, and 15 active program volunteers, and an additional 40+ volunteers who serve on the Board and its committees. Neutral Zone features an after school drop-in space, weekend concerts and special events, and 20 programs in the five areas- Music Performance and Technology, Literary Arts, Visual Arts, Education, and Community Leadership. This evaluation is a documentation of the program year from September 2012 through June 2013.
This evaluation focuses on the following goals:
The Neutral Zone, an organization committed to the principles of positive youth development, roots its programming on best practices within the components of a youth development framework. According to a widely accepted definition by the National Collaboration for Youth Members youth development is:
a process which prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences which help them to become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent. Positive youth development addresses the broader developmental needs of youth, in contrast to deficit-based models, which focus solely on youth problems.
Programmings based on these principles are accompanied by evaluation that uses these same metrics and are driven by the Teen Advisory Council (T.A.C.). T.A.C. is a youth committee of the Board of Directors charged with providing program leadership through program approval, fundraising events, grants and evaluation.