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Center for Teen Empowerment opens new HQ in Roxbury

André Stark

Associate Publisher, Bay State Banner

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Center for Teen Empowerment opens new HQ in Roxbury
The Center for Teen Empowerment (CTE) celebrates new Roxbury headquarters with a ribbon-cutting. (From left) Danny McLaughlin, CTE Somerville; Carrie Mays, CTE Boston; CTE Executive Director Abrigal Forrester; CTE Board Chairman Lauren Lapat; Byron Rushing; Alex Pierpont, building owner. PHOTO: MERRILL SHEA

For many years, the national headquarters of the Center for Teen Empowerment was situated in the heart of Roxbury, in a building on Washington Street. The organization has been a stalwart in Boston, successfully working with urban teens to collaborate and train them as community organizers and advocates for others by developing effective strategies to effect positive change in Boston, Somerville and Rochester, New York.   

Mel King Memorial Hallway. PHOTO: MERRILL SHEA

On Aug. 31, the Center had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its new offices right down the street, adjacent to the historic Twelfth Baptist Church at 130 Warren Street.

The 7,700-square-foot building and grounds, configured by STA Designs, will allow the Center to expand and rebrand their programming and accommodate more teens in the space. Abrigal Forrester, the Center for Teen Empowerment’s executive director, explained, “Young people need a place to belong, and now they have a standalone one right in the heart of Nubian Square.”

Celebration attendees mingle in the new space. PHOTO: MERRILL SHEA

Each room of the headquarters is dedicated to a person of impact in Boston and beyond, starting with the Mel King Memorial Hallway. Other rooms are named after Martin Luther King Jr., Melnea Cass, Ayanna Pressley, Frieda Garcia and Lynn Fields.

The move to the new building comes on the heels of the organization’s 30th anniversary that was celebrated earlier this year. A new building is also being planned for the organization’s Rochester office.

A plethora of city, state and young leaders spoke at the Roxbury ribbon-cutting, discussing how the new building will impact the organization. Former state Rep. Byron Rushing spoke, as did a representative of state Sen. Liz Miranda’s office.

Former state Rep. Byron Rushing speaks while Executive Director Abrigal Forrester looks on. PHOTO: MERRILL SHEA

One of the more poignant speeches was by youth organizer Carrie Mays, who started at Teen Empowerment seven years ago, when she was 15. Mays is the first young person to serve on the city’s Civilian Review Board. She said she was “in the rooms [with adults] having debates, literally learning and facilitating what it means to have good communication and speaking skills on a public level.” She also said that she learned the concept of grassroots organizing, “right here at Teen Empowerment.”

Pedro Cruz from the City of Boston’s Department of Youth Engagement and Advancement summed up the day by urging the young people to “take advantage of the people around you and take advantage of the space around you, because you are the future, but more importantly, you are today.”

Center for Teen Empowerment, roxbury