The Neutral Zone
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. Red Beard Press is one of the many programs run through this space by the literary arts teen board members. If not for The Neutral Zone and those supporting it, Red Beard Press and it's publications could not be possible!
Founded in 1998, the Neutral Zone started with a group of Ann Arbor teens who gathered to discuss the need for a place where teens could congregate after school and on weekends. From the very beginning, they felt this place should be more than just a hangout; that is could be a safe place to make new friends, mix with youth from different backgrounds, explore new ideas, learn new skills and do it all in a setting that was teen friendly and teen driven. Teens wrote the mission statement and the first grant proposal to the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and, with seed money in hand, enlisted parents and friends to turn an old brick and timber warehouse into a teen center.It’s been years since that original group of teens realized their dream and they have moved on with their lives. Their legacy lives on, however, in the Neutral Zone’s mission statement. From that first handful of teens, attendance has grown to more than 16,000 visits a year. Today, in addition to drop-in and free tutoring after school, the Neutral Zone offers more than 20 programs in the areas of Education, Literary Arts, Community Leadership, Music and the Visual Arts. However, the Neutral Zone is just not a place. It is the sum total of all of the teens who come through its doors. Their energy, creativity, passion and ideas, shape and direct our programs and activities.
The Neutral Zone is considered the premiere youth development programs for older youth in the country. In 2009, Neutral Zone was recognized with the Afterschool Innovator Award and in 2007 was featured in The Nation as providing one of the best youth leadership programs in the country. In 2010, the Kellogg Foundation awarded Neutral Zone and its collaborating partners a grant to share its unique, youth-driven approach with other teen programs throughout the state.
(Left) During the Lights On event, the Neutral Zone was presented with the 2009 MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award for innovative programming, for $5,000
Neutral Zone Grant Partners:
Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (and Youth Council)
Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority
Bank of Ann Arbor
Calty Design Research
Comerica Charitable Foundation
Dan Cameron Family Foundation
Detroit Auto Dealers Association of the Community Foundation of SE Michigan
Edward F. Redies Foundation
Elma Music Philanthropies
Harry A. and Margaret D.
Helen Kay Charitable Foundation
J. Ferrantino Charitable Foundation
J F Ervin Foundation
James A. and Faith Knight Foundation
Judy Ivan Healthy Communities Endowment
Kass Family Foundation
Key Bank Foundation
Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor
Masco Corporate Foundation
Merton and Regina Allen Memorial Fund
Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs
Toyota Technical Center
Washtenaw Intermediate School District
Wireless Zone Foundation for Giving
Ann Arbor Public Schools, Ann Arbor Art Center, Community Television Network (CTN), Dexter Community Schools, Detroit School of Arts, Michigan Department of Education, Princeton Review, River Rouge High School, Saline Area Schools, University of Michigan Spectrum Center, Ypsilanti Community Schools, and the Washtenaw Alliance for Children and Youth.