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Ann Arbor Neutral Zone

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The Ann Arbor Neutral Zone is a diverse, youth-driven teen center founded in 1998,[1] dedicated to promoting personal growth through artistic expression, community leadership and the exchange of ideas.[2]

It provides a study space with tutoring, snacks, weekly dinners, and a place to hang out with friends. In addition, NZ offers 24 regular programs in Community Leadership, Education, Literary Arts, Music Performance and Technology, and Visual Arts. During the 2007–2008 program year, approximately 18,424 teen visits during the after school programs and special events were documented. A total of 501 teens were registered in the weekly programs and leadership activities.

Community leadership[edit]

  • The Teen Advisory Council (TAC), is a team of teens that control the organization by approving and evaluating programs. They also organize various fundraising events, and opportunities for the different Neutral Zone programs. Their work plays a big part in the Neutral Zones continuance to exist. Max Bowen and Ryan Mark-Griffin were facilitators during the 2008-2009 school year.
  • Building Bridges is a new service-learning program, that gathers weekly to engage in discussions. Some discussion topics include History, Politics, and culture of New Orleans. A mid-winter break trip to New Orleans has been planned to help rebuild homes (Winter 2009). (Program supported by Ann Arbor Jaycees Foundation)
  • North Star is a discussion group for young women/ This group is meant to provide a comfortable atmosphere, making it possible for personal issues to be discussed with ease. (Program supported by the Key Foundation)
  • Riot Youth, was created to sustain a Gay, and Lesbian, friendly place. It is also a group for youth activists. The main purpose is educating and supporting a variety of youth activist and outreach projects.(Supported by Liberty Hill and the Arcus Gay and Lesbian Fund)
  • SEED, Students Educating Each other about Discrimination, is a group that focuses on sharing experiences with middle school youth. The teens take their experiences in building a strong, diverse community, and facilitate discussions among groups of middle school kids.(Supported by Ann Arbor Public Schools)
  • STAND is a group provides teens with an opportunity to learn about the history of Darfur, along with its current crisis. STAND works toward taking action in the crisis in Darfur, and strives to use social activism to make a difference.


  • Tutoring provides teens with a quiet study environment, with tutors, and snacks provided. (Supported by Washtenaw County)
  • The College Prep program is designed to help high school students with the college application process. There is a yearlong program that includes mentoring, workshops, college visits, and one on-one support with the college application, scholarship, and finical aid process. (Supported by the Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions)
  • The Short Story Workshop and Volume Youth Poetry are both groups where teens gather to either write poetry or short stories. In addition to writing and performing nationally, the Volume Youth Poetry Project performs at local coffee shops, bookstores,and several large-scale community events.


The Neutral Zone was founded by teens in 1998 to improve a venue for social, cultural, educational, recreational, and creative opportunities. Students came up with the idea of a teen center because of the need for a place to get together. They created this center with the intentions to help teens mix, and meet other teens of different backgrounds. The teens themselves wrote the mission statement, and grant proposal to the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and, with the help from family and friends, turned an old brick and timber warehouse into a teen center.


  1. Ann Arbor teen center, Neutral Zone, turns 10" Ann Arbor New May 31, 2008
  2. Neutral Zone mission statement

External links[edit]

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