Rochester organization addressing causes of youth violence, giving teens purpose during pandemic

Local News

Teen Empowerment Center hires youngsters to make impact in their neighborhoods

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Since 2003, the Teen Empowerment Center has hired youngsters to work in their neighborhoods, to build relationships through outreach. The center is saying to help heal this incredibly damaging year for youth, more needs to be done to help kids get invested and involved in their own communities. 

Doug Ackley says oftentimes, young people are left out. He’s with the center, a way he says for youth to be counted in. He says this year has been especially difficult for teens.

“What we don’t ask is ‘what’s happening with our young people? How are they feeling? What has this year done to them?'” says Ackley.

News 8 asked Ackley about the spike in teen violence this year. He says we need to meet the youth where they are at, the Center and other youth organizations are ways to do that. 

“And reaching young people who’ve been lost, who have had incredible learning loss, lost out in school, lost out in sports…”, he says.

Je’Carl Hill says a way to remedy some of this, starts with outreach. “I believe there’s no reason good enough that we can’t tap into young people and figure out what made them do that, and prevent it from happening,” says Hill.

17-year-old Max Yamil Cabezudo-Brown works with the Center. He says it gives him a meaningful job, and a way to make a difference as a youth organizer. “We talk to each other and support each other, it’s really like a family,” he says.

Ackley says this year has been incredibly damaging for teens, and the impact of the pandemic will be felt for years to come. He says more needs to be done to give money to youth funding and recreation. 

“There are going to be impacts to what happens when we remove opportunities,” he says. The Center also does outreach when it comes to local history, community policing impacts, and advocating for changes in education.

“Our City is going to be the greatest when we involve everyone in making decisions,” says Ackley.

The TEC is located at 392 Genesee Street in Rochester. For more details, call 585-697-3464, or email

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