Background and History
ACYR was originally formed in the early 1970's as a volunteer effort to connect teenagers to summer jobs. Volunteers were stationed at state Job Service offices, as well as municipal and county agencies throughout Maricopa County, to field job orders from local homeowners and to match young people with jobs in their neighborhoods. It quickly expanded to include full-time employment opportunities with private sector employers during the summer and part-time during the school year. The organization was incorporated in the State of Arizona in 1976.
Since 1979, the City of Phoenix has contracted with ACYR to operate U.S. Department of Labor youth employment and training programs. Contracts with the the Maricopa County Human Services Department beginning in 2000 has allowed ACYR to provide youth employment and training programming in western Maricopa County. A grant funded by the Arizona Department of Education from 1987 through 1995 offered similar services to youth incarcerated at the Adobe Mountain, Pinal Mountain, and Black Canyon Juvenile Institutions.
From 1988 through 1994, ACYR partnered with the Phoenix Union High School District on several local initiatives to address high dropout rates among the District's students. Programs were designed to identify students who had either dropped out of school or who were at risk of dropping out, and to offer a variety of re-engagement opportunities, including supplemental academic preparation and career exploration at students' home campuses and an alternative campus at the ACYR facility.
In 1995 ACYR was funded by the Arizona Department of Education to provide GED preparation and basic skills upgrading to younger adult learners. Phoenix Youthbuild, a partnership between ACYR, the City of Phoenix, and Labor's Community Service Agency to provide training and education in the construction trades also began in 1995. Rounding out a year of high growth, the Center of Excellence (CoE) – a publicly chartered secondary school specifically designed for students who have not responded positively to a traditional school structure – began operations. All currently remain in operation.
ACYR received recognition as a National Youth Employment Coalition PEPNet (Promising and Effective Practices Network) awardee in 1996, and again in 2000 as a partner in Phoenix YouthBuild. The Center of Excellence was accredited by the North Central Association in 1998 and renewed in 2003. In 2009 ACYR was one of only four organizations nationally accredited through a rigorous process conducted by the National Youth Employment Coalition.
ACYR is fortunate to claim several key resources that provide a solid foundation for the work that we do. In 1990, we were awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for the purpose of constructing a training center and administrative offices at 649 North 6th Avenue in Phoenix. Completed and dedicated in 1991, it currently houses the Adult Education program, a Phoenix Workforce Connection One-Stop Resource Room, and administrative and support staff. Subsequent CDBG funding has resulted in the construction of two additional buildings at 641 North 6th Avenue and 648 North 5th Avenue. The 641 facility is home to the Center of Excellence, while the 5th Avenue building houses the workforce development programs, a large community meeting room, and a 16-station computer lab.
Another of the organization's key resources - and arguably the most critical one - is its cadre of highly qualified and dedicated staff. The ACYR team consists of fifty-five (55) experienced professionals and support staff who are committed to improving the quality of life for young people, their families, and the community.