A Note from GreenStarThe Learning Web was selected by GreenStar members to be among our twelve 2024 Partners for Change. The Learning Web is the July Positive Change recipient.

The Learning Web, a dynamic, youth-serving agency, has been working in Tompkins County since 1972 to aid youth, ages 11-24, in making the transition from adolescence to adulthood.  Each year, we help over 600 youth, 250 of whom are homeless or housing insecure, to build capacity and thrive as self-assured, self-directed, productive adults.  We offer a developmental series of community-based learning experiences tailored to the interests and complex needs of each individual youth, building a bridge that helps each youth successfully travel the path into positive adulthood.

All of our activities and services are low-barrier and free of charge to Tompkins County youth, regardless of economic circumstance, and we are proud to provide a wide array of opportunities and support for youth, which has expanded and changed over the agency’s 52-year history in response to the changing needs of area youth.

The Learning Web established the Youth Exploration Program (YEP) in 1972, and this program still exists today.  YEP engages county youth ages 11-22 in exploring their interests, developing their passions and building new skills through career exploration and community service activities including tours, workshops, apprenticeships and volunteerism. Long-time Ithacans may remember the Ben and Jerry’s “partnershop”, Youth Scoops, which, for 15 years, offered urban and rural county youth a skill-building and empowering employment opportunity. While we no longer operate an agency “business”, our YEP staff still engage over 200 youth annually in activities that encourage youth to consider their futures by working with volunteer adult mentors who share their workplaces, time and passions to help to ignite that spark that leads youth to pursue their dreams.

In 1990, the Youth Outreach Program (YO) was launched, when youth homelessness was still an unrecognized problem in many policy circles.  What started as a non-residential independent living program with a significant street outreach component, the Web’s YO program has grown to include almost 30 units of transitional and permanent supported housing options for homeless youth ages 16-24, including pregnant/parenting youth.  This program provides long-term, intensive case management and independent living skills training to homeless youth, including access to basic needs, mental health counseling, service referrals, transportation support, parenting education and assistance with navigating systems and service providers.

DSS Life Skills services for youth ages 14-21 in family foster care placement was established in 2008.  Combining experiential learning and case management with support to address issues of housing, employment, education and virtually all of the components of independent living, this program aids youth in developing the full range of skills needed to move toward independence.  These services, offered through a contract with Tompkins County of Social Services, expanded in 2018, making is possible of offer county youth a continuum of services from gateway outreach and youth development to prevention and intervention.  This expansion allows us to better address the needs of youth, including youth-in-need who fall “between the cracks” of our other program’s eligibility constraints.

Keep up with our latest activities on our website, www.learning-web.org, “the learning web” on Facebook and thelearningweb on Instagram.