Building Community in St. Louis’ Central West End with Youth Learning Center


​Since 2003 Youth Learning Center has provided afterschool and summer enrichment programs to youth in underserved communities, serving more than 400 students each year. “We’re focused around a growth mindset,” said Bill Kent, Jr., president and CEO of Youth Learning Center. “A growth mindset can lead to success. We’re trying to develop kids socially and emotionally, no matter the path they choose in life.”

The organization focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) enrichment programs to teach kids problem solving and creativity. “We need to make learning fun for students,” said Michele Fontaine, chief programs officer at Youth Learning Center. “The best way to make learning fun is through programs.”

The Opus Foundation recently awarded the nonprofit with a $33,500 Impact Fund grant. The organization will use the grant to help turn their afterschool program into a ‘living lab’ dedicated to creating project-based learning modules and active learning opportunities to equip children to become powerful problem solvers and critical thinkers. “This grant will help us redesign our afterschool model, funding a 3D printer, program design consultant, mobile Mac lab and other supplies,” said Jacqueline Byrne, development director for Youth Learning Center.

“A part of project-based learning is allowing students access to information,” said Fontaine. “The mobile Mac lab will be a crucial part of the program.” With the lab, students will not only have access to information but also the ability to improve their tech skills on modern equipment.

“The start of our partnership with Opus really means a lot to us,” Kent, Jr., said. “We really value it.”

YLC is an impactful member of the Central West End community, and we are proud to support their efforts.

Youth Learning Center is located in St. Louis’ Central West End. Learn more about the work of the Opus Foundation or our work in the neighborhood on the Central West End Luxury Apartments.

The Opus Foundation is building community for a better tomorrow by supporting projects and programs that make our communities better places to live, work and raise families through grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of early childhood education, youth development, workforce development, community revitalization and pressing/emerging needs. Read more about the Foundation's work.