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What is the United Teen Equality Center?
The United Teen Equality Center—UTEC for short—is a youth-led center that seeks to decrease youth violence and gang activity, and improve economic opportunity for underserved teens in Lowell, MA. UTEC engages youth on the streets --often during moments of violent conflict—and establishes enough trust for teens to consider positive life change. UTEC then guides them through their self-directed journey of personal development, education, and skill enhancing activities. Transformed and empowered, these teens improve their economic and social outcomes and then want to share this positive message by helping others.
Who does UTEC serve?
UTEC serves Greater Lowell area youth age 13-23.
Where is UTEC?
UTEC is located in Downtown Lowell, Massachusetts at 34 Hurd Street, opposite the Lowell District Court.
When is UTEC open?
UTEC is open for drop-in and classes year round. During the school year, UTEC is open Monday-Thursday from 2:30pm-6pm for drop-in, with most programs running from 6pm-8pm. During the summer, UTEC is open for classes and drop-in from Monday-Thursday from 4pm-8pm. Fridays are reserved for special programs, training and meetings for adult and teen staff. Certain programs have morning hours, such as UTEC’s Alternative Diploma Program and GED preparation classes. Additionally, UTEC’s Culinary and Business programs are offered 9am-12pm Monday-Thursday. There are other exceptions to these hours, so please speak with a staff member when registering for classes.
How do I join UTEC?
Teens wishing to join UTEC are encouraged to visit the center first to see the facilities and get a tour. When ready to join, teens should speak to a staff member at the reception desk. At that time, teens will be given a registration form to complete, and if under 18, they will also receive a form to take home for parents to sign. The staff member will also schedule a time for teens to return for an orientation session which lasts 15-30 minutes; however, the tour and orientation can occur all on the same day. Once all forms and the orientation session have been completed, teens will be an official member.
Do members pay to join UTEC?
UTEC is free to all members.
When can I join UTEC?
Teens are welcome to join at any time of year. Membership is rolling and open to all fitting UTEC’s age guidelines.
Do I have to join a class to visit the center?
UTEC members do not need to join a class. They can visit the center for drop-in activities, or just hang-out and relax.
When do classes start?
UTEC classes are offered in four 12-week quarters starting in September and running through the end of summer.
Can I join a class after the session starts?
Teens may join a class at any time, even mid-session after it has already started.
Does UTEC do field trips?
UTEC offers field trips during the year, but greatly expands trips during the summer. Trips include camping, hiking, boating, swimming, amusement parks, museums, and other cultural institutions. UTEC also encourages teens to voice their rights as citizens and takes trips to the Statehouse and elsewhere for action rallies and organizing activities.
If I am a member, do I have to stop at the front desk when I enter?
Yes, all UTEC members must stop and sign-in at the front desk when entering every day. If I am a member, may I bring a guest? UTEC welcomes teens to bring guests. When signing-in at the front desk, teens may sign in their guest at that time. Guests will participate in a brief orientation and tour, and then are free to join their host. After 2-3 guest visits, UTEC requests that guests become members.
If I am in trouble and need help, who should I ask for?
Teens needing assistance with a personal crisis should call or visit the center and ask for someone on the Streetworker team. If unavailable, UTEC staff on hand will do their best to help.
Does UTEC offer mental health counseling?
UTEC has a licensed mental health professional on site Monday-Thursday from 2pm to 6pm. The counselor offers a range of individual and couples counseling by appointment, and has some accessibility for drop-in visits.
How can I donate to the center?
UTEC welcomes financial contributions via our website on the invest page. Product donations should be coordinated through UTEC’s Development department, which can be reached via phone at (978)856-3909.
Does UTEC need volunteers?
If interested in volunteering at UTEC, please contact Juan Carlos Rivera, Director of Operations, at (978) 856-3903.