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Home >  Community Based Prevention >  Community Based Youth Programs > Beacon Programs

Beacon Programs

Beacons are school-based community centers designed to establish “safe havens” for community residents. The program is a research-based model first introduced in New York City and subsequently replicated in major cities throughout the nation. The long-term intent of the program is to improve community safety and outcomes for the children and families living there. To achieve these goals, Beacon providers work with the children, youth and families that reside in its neighborhood to identify priorities and deliver an attractive, responsive and creative range of programs and services.


Click here for the most recent list of participating organizations and schools.


All children, youth and families who live, work and play in the neighborhood surrounding the center are invited to participate in its activities. Each site serves approximately 300 children and youth per day.

Role of Beacons

  • Create and maintain consistent high standards for children and youth in school and in the community;
  • Involve children and youth in constructive relationships with caring adults;
  • Provide safe places for children, youth, families and community residents of all ages to spend time interacting and focusing on learning;
  • Provide space that is accessible and convenient for community residents;
  • Provide children and youth with real, challenging opportunities to learn, practice skills and contribute to their communities;
  • Build continuous, integrated supports—programs that are flexible in meeting a young person’s needs and fit together in coherent ways;
  • Offer cross-cultural opportunities to build harmonious and diverse relationships.

Program Components

Beacon centers are operational a minimum of eight hours a day seven days per week. Beacon programs include a continuum of after school, youth development activities and family support services that engage children from birth to adulthood while providing necessary support for their families.
    • Youth development activities:
      Academic enrichment and other academic supports
      Youth leadership, peer mentoring and community service projects
      Recreational and cultural arts activities
      Job training and preparation

    • Family Support activities:
      Childcare and early enrichment
      Parenting classes and peer support groups (including groups for fathers and grandparents)
      Information and referrals (including employment and counseling)
      Community gatherings and cultural events

    • Additional activities and services as needed in the community:
      English as a second language classes
      Medical and mental health services
      Assistance with basic needs such as food, clothing and housing.

Each Beacon is led in the development and implementation of its programs by a Beacon Council of parents, youth, teachers and other school staff, service providers, and other committed community residents. Additionally, a Youth Council comprised of youth from the community works closely with Beacon staff and the Beacon Council on the development of youth activities.


Beacon Centers collaborate with a host of community-based service organizations to ensure that services are available to children youth and families at, or in conjunction with, the Beacon center and to plan neighborhood events. Beacon contractors also collaborate closely with the neighborhood school where the center is located and is integrated into the school’s mission and strategic plan.

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