What happens when teens, the ultimate influencers, take the mic to reimagine the future of after-school? Their ideas pave the way for after-school providers to dig deep into what teens want outside of the classroom.

Generator Z, driven by teens and powered by Lakeshore Connections with support from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, has awarded $4 million in grants to 93 after-school providers to bring after-school ideas to life in the next year.

“I am thrilled to announce that TELLING IT, a youth-driven, healing-centered, expressive arts after-school program, is a recipient of this initiative!” reports Deb Gordon-Gurfinkel, Telling It Founding Director.

Teenagers who gather twice a week to participate in the Telling It program sessions shared their reasons for wanting Telling It to continue at Parkridge: it is uncensored, they value the safety and acceptance of the group culture and, that over time, the group feels intimate and like a family. The teens also like the artists that are invited in and are inspired by the workshops they offer, especially spoken word and rap. Gordon-Gurfinkel added, “This funding will significantly boost the existing program at Parkridge Community Center, Ypsilanti. We can’t wait to meet with the teens!”

About Telling It

Founded in 2002, Telling It is a trauma-informed, resiliency-building community-based after-school program that supports the healing and social emotional learning needs of school-age youth using best practices from social work filtered through the expressive arts.


About Generator Z

Launched in 2020, Generator Z is a teen-led initiative to reimagine the future of after-school. More than 1,000 'Generators'; from across Southeast Michigan and Western New York shared their after-school experience and insight online. Afterschool providers stepped up with ideas to turn that teen insight into action. Over 90 providers across both regions received $4 million to bring their ideas to life in the next year and Telling It is one of them! Generator Z is driven by teens and powered by Lakeshore Connections with support from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.