Every teen needs the support of their community and caring adults to succeed.
The CanTeen offers a safe space where teens can be themselves and find that guidance regardless of their backgrounds. Our youth-led program for 8th through 12th graders provides essential support and fellowship to approximately 600 unique participants each year.
These are everyday teens, who can drop in for a bite to eat, shoot some hoops or play games with classmates and friends. But, it’s much more than fun and games. CanTeen programs cover a wide variety of topics that matter to teens who might otherwise engage in risky behaviors.
Everyone Is Welcome
We don’t cater to any one demographic. All are welcome here because all teens have the same needs and struggles no matter their social or economic status. This is a place where any student can find common ground when they’re off campus.
Our adult staff and volunteer mentors share The CanTeen experience with participants, whether lending a sympathetic ear, giving advice or just hanging out. This is a place to meet new people and learn new things, from meal preparation to job skills.
What We Do
CanTeen programs cover a wide variety of topics that matter to teens who might otherwise engage in risky behaviors. We partner with a variety of organizations to offer presentations that address alcohol, drugs and relationships. Our speakers offer advice for college planning, resume building and other life skills. We also connect teens with community service opportunities where they can make a difference.
Basically, we help teens make good choices. Essentially, the more participants who take advantage of our services, the fewer teens are being tempted to make bad decisions. We give them the resources to succeed.
The CanTeen is a safe home away from home. It provides my children opportunities to participate in after school activities until I get out of work in the early evening. At The CanTeen my children get to volunteer in the community, make new friends, and learn important life lessons while being introduced to new and fun experiences.
I can’t say enough great things about The CanTeen. My kids have made so many friends; they always feel welcome and safe. At The CanTeen, I know my kids can always grab a bite to eat after school. If they have a problem or need someone to talk to there is always a trusted compassionate adult available to listen. We are truly fortunate to have this organization staffed by wonderful people.
Questions and Answers for Parents
What is the CanTeen?
The CanTeen is a youth led drop-in teen center for youth in 8th – 12th grades; located in front of of CNS High School that is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 2:00 PM to 6:30 PM when the North Syracuse School District is in session. The CanTeen is closed on Wednesday.
Does it cost anything to go to the CanTeen or on the field trips?
It does not cost anything for teens to come to the CanTeen & they are welcome as often as they choose to come. With any of our field trips, there is a small charge ranging from $5 – $50 depending if it’s a day trip or a few days at the ocean. However, if your family qualifies for free or reduced lunch, you may contact us for assistance with this fee.
What can teens do at the CanTeen?
It is important for parents to know that because the CanTeen is a drop-in teen center, focusing on helping adolescents learn life skills, personal responsibility, & independence, they are allowed to walk up to McDonald’s, the Dollar Store, workout at the high school if they have that arranged, etc. Our staff makes it very clear to the youth that if they have parents that don’t want them doing this, then that is their responsibility. You may call the center any time to see if your child is here. While at the CanTeen, there are many things to do!! We have pool tables, a ping pong table, a media room with various video games, a half basketball court, numerous board and card games, and always plenty of food! We also offer community service opportunities and field trips. We also offer a dinner on Tuesdays & Thursdays.
Is the CanTeen open year round?
No. We are not open if school is not in session (i.e. snow days, vacation days, etc). During the summer we spend our time going on various field trips.
What are the rules at the CanTeen?
We are an alcohol, drug, and smoke free environment (including vaping). In addition, the youth over time have established 3 main expectations:
1. Regarding PDA (public displays of affection), it makes people feel very uncomfortable & therefore this isn’t the place for it.
2. Clean up after oneself. Teens are free to cook ramen noodles or mac’n’cheese, however, it is expected that they will wash, dry, & put away any & all dishes that they use so that others may use them. This includes throwing away your garbage, wrappers, cups, etc.
3. The use of foul language (i.e. swearing) & talking negatively about others either to their face or behind their back is not acceptable. This is a place where teens want to come to get away from judgments & drama. Respect of people at the CanTeen & the center itself is a must!
What transportation to/from the CanTeen is available for my teen?
Teens at the high school can walk over to the CanTeen after school. Teens from the North Syracuse Jr. High can take a shuttle up to the CanTeen at the end of school day if they contact The CanTeen and reserve a spot. If you are coming from another school district you must have your own transportation to and from the CanTeen.
Teens are also welcome to stay until our closing times and arrange their own ride home from a parent or guardian.
How often can my teen go to the CanTeen?
Participants can come as often as they choose as long as they are following our expectations, are currently enrolled in school, not on a disciplinary leave from school. They also can just attend field trips.
Will my teen be safe at the CanTeen?
While at the CanTeen, teens are supervised by qualified adult staff members. We also have college interns and community volunteers who come to the CanTeen to engage with the teens during the week. The staff oversee & engage with the teens continuously when the center is open.
If my teen is struggling with something, will they have someone to talk to?
Yes, the staff is available to help teens navigate any challenges & we also have many connections in the community & at the schools to make referrals if more professional help is needed.
Questions and Answers for Supporters
Can my business or organization partner with The CanTeen to sponsor an event?
Yes! The support of local business and communities is critical to the success of programs like The CanTeen. We have various sponsorship opportunities throughout the year. For more information please contact The CanTeen!
20 Years! - A History of The CanTeen
Local teens approached community leaders, including Town of Cicero Supervisor Joan Kesel, Chief of Police/Director of Community and Volunteer Services American Red Cross Joe Snell, North Syracuse Central School District teachers Bill Brown and Bill Bradley, North Syracuse Central School District Administrator Dr. David Morton and Undersheriff Warren Darby regarding offering services, supports and opportunities to keep youth safe and entertained during their out of school time. While following a directive from then President Elizabeth Dole to cultivate more youth involvement, the local chapter of The American Red Cross partnered with the community to research the possibilities. Bob Bewley, Director of Program Development for the American Red Cross, and Toni’Lyn Brauchle, Program Specialist for Community Connections, each committed 20 hours a week to the initiative. With the assistance of Dr. David Morton, grants were applied for to operate the program. Surveys were administered to youth in 6th – 12th grades in the North Syracuse Central School District researching the interest in the possibility of a local teen center.
The American Red Cross held a Grand Opening of the Northeast Youth Initiative with the slogan “We help you reach your stars”. Teen Center at MarketPlace Mall. The “We Care” crisis hotline, formally located at the Town of Cicero, was moved under the umbrella of the Youth Initiative.
On January 1st, the Town of Cicero took over the program administration. A number of locations were explored while the Cicero Senior Center and William Park Recreation Building acted as alternate sites. Cicero Youth Bureau was formed with neighboring partners; Towns of Cicero, Clay, Salina and the Village of North Syracuse. Those partners, in concert with a wide variety of representation from across all sectors also formed a Community Youth Board to specifically look at programs offered for youth.
The program signed a lease and settled into its third home, located next to the Cicero North Syracuse High School in New Country Plaza in Cicero. Busing began to be offered through the North Syracuse Central School District for teens to the center from The North Syracuse Junior High School and home for all interested participants. At the grand opening of this location, a local resident, Carole Laing, mentioned to the teens that in the 1950’s there was a teen center in the center of town called “The CanTeen.” The teens decided to adopt the name and the teen center officially changed its name to The CanTeen with the slogan “It’s not a program, it’s a relationship”.
With the assistance of Town of Cicero Police Chief Joseph Snell, The Friends of the CanTeen (501c3) tax exempt organization was formed. Their sole mission was to accept donations from the community and raise funds to operate the teen center.
The Cicero Youth Board changed its name to Greater Cicero Community Connections For Youth Board to better reflect all of the parties involved in the CanTeen.
The CanTeen was again uprooted as the lease was not extended. They relocated for the fourth time 2.5 miles from the high school to 8837 Brewerton Rd. The renovation to the new facility was done by volunteers: new wiring, lights, wall removal and a fresh coat of paint applied.
Led by Assemblyman Al Stirpe, steps were taken to secure funding to purchase a permanent “home” on the perimeter of the CNS High School complex.
Inaugural Gus Macker 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament made the Friends of the CanTeen over $20,000.
Friends of the CanTeen (501c3) purchased 6046 State Route 31 in Cicero, New York as their new, permanent “HOME”!
Our own Extreme Home Makeover “CanTeen Style” began. Local Architect John Goodman volunteered his time to draft the specific plans. Under the coordinated efforts of Greg Lancette, Central and Northern New York Building & Trades Council President, the following trade groups volunteered their time and expertise to assist:
- Bricklayers & Allied Craft Workers Local #2
- Roofers Local #195
- International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators & Allied Workers Local #30
- IBEW Local #43
- Painters District Council #4
- United Association of Plumbers & Steamfitters Local #267
- Sheet Metal Workers Local #58
Additionally, Engineers from C&S Companies gave of their time and talents. Also, volunteers from the North Syracuse Central School District and the community were too numerous to count. Many local businesses donated supplies and installation costs.
The CanTeen officially opened for business at 6046 Route 31.
The CanTeen celebrates 20 years of building relationships with youth in our community.