Neutral Zone

"[Neutral Zone] is where I walk through an art show curated by teens/ dance in the streets of a festival with my friends who organized the jamboree/ I stood in the crowd of a concert of kids who put their albums out at 17/ it's where I found my voice on a blue bean bag, I read my very first poem out loud, and look where I am now."

Neutral Zone Provides a Collaborative Space for Teens to Share Their Stories

Neutral Zone is a nonprofit that offers a "youth-driven teen center dedicated to promoting personal growth through artistic expression, community leadership and the exchange of ideas." Its mission statement was written by the very teens who started the center. These innovative teens recognized the need for a safe space to not only unwind, but also explore new ideas, meet new people, and learn new skills.

From that first core group of teens, Neutral Zone has grown to having 16,000 visits from teens per year. In addition to providing a social community, Neutral Zone offers free tutoring and more than 20 programs in literary arts, community leadership, music, visual arts, and education. Neutral Zone is truly a comprehensive social and learning environment. But Neutral Zone isn't just the building that houses its activities; it's "the sum total of all of the teens who come through its doors."

Some of its many programs include video production, music video making, digital photography, mosaics, and a summer institute for writers. Because the teens' energy, creativity, passion, and ideas shape and direct its programs and activities, these programs are all by the teens, for the teens.

Neutral Zone was one of 600 nonprofits around the world that submitted a video for TechSoup's Storymakers 2016 campaign. In its video, you hear a beautiful spoken poem shared by one of Neutral Zone's participants. The poem describes the participant's experiences in Neutral Zone; her experiences increased her confidence with sharing her poems and provided her with a network of like-minded but also unique individuals who sparked her creativity.