West 7th Community Center- Diversity of Experiences

submitted by Emma Ensign-Church, West 7th Intern, Macalester College


West 7th Community Center promotes diversity and works to serve the population of it’s surrounding community with various events that are free and open to the public. Family movie nights every month draw in large crowds of families excited to share a night hanging out together. This month, West 7th hosted FRED, Fathers Reading Every Day, in which fathers and children gathered at the center to enjoy a complimentary dinner and a night of activities, revolving around the importance of reading aloud to your children daily.

West 7th’s acclaimed and state accredited after-school program, Community Kids, facilitates self-confidence, self-esteem, leadership, and healthy relationships. West 7th’s Community Kids program serves mainly inner-city youth who see everyday results in academic improvement and social-emotional development. In addition to this, the Second Step violence prevention curriculum teaches students vital social skills such as empathy, impulse control, problem-solving, and emotion management.

Maresa, a student from the older after-school classroom shared some of the reasons she enjoys spending her afternoons at West 7th:

“I like the West 7th Community Kids after-school program because it gives me a lot of help with things like homework and social issues at school. It educates me by giving us a class called Second Step, which talks about the skills I need for handling bullying and life challenges. The teachers care about us and help us through any challenges we have. I have to say one of the best things the program has done for me was how they told me to always be myself no matter who tries to change me. That skill helped me to make more friends and be as hard working in school as I am now.”

Staff and Students

At West 7th, staff and volunteers come from diverse backgrounds, ages, and cultures, but they all love what they do: engaging with the kids! West 7th’s Family & Youth department had over 223 volunteers just this past year, some of whom worked in the after school program getting to know the students and helping them with school work. Volunteers are also indispensable at West 7th’s numerous events throughout the year.

Samuel, a 5th grader in the Community Kids After School program, said his favorite part of the program was “the homework help” and getting to see the same volunteers every week. At West 7th Community Center, our diverse youth learn to interact positively with each other, while building successful futures for themselves.

To learn more about Community Kids After School and Summer Program, or other programs at West 7th Community Center visit West 7th Community Center 

Community Kids is supported by a 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant, administered through the Minnesota Department of Education.