Our History

1987 Fall
Views of Youth Conference

In the fall of 1987, Aspen School District held its annual “Views of Youth” conference attended by student representatives, grades 5-12. Their task was to identify the most important issue(s) of concern to students. The consensus issue that emerged was the need for a “teen center.”  There was, however, no reason to believe that the results of this conference would be any different than in the prior year when “a lack of school spirit” was the top ranked issue and was quickly forgotten as participants in the conference returned to regular classroom routine.  That, however, was not the case with a teen center. The idea caught fire and soon became a priority for student leaders and their peers.

1988 Spring
Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study

A group of approximately 20 high school students took on the task of developing, distributing and tabulating a survey of Aspen High School (“AHS”) and Aspen Middle School (“AMS”) students.  The goal was to determine if the need for a teen center existed and what services it should provide.  Completed in the spring of 1988, the survey results were overwhelmingly in support of a teen center. The students involved in the survey then recruited a small group of adults to form a joint committee to further explore the feasibility of such a project.


It is important to note that the idea of a teen center was not new to Aspen. There had been four failed projects in the prior twenty-five years. Community members who had been involved in those efforts shared the lessons that had been learned with the committee.The four locations included:  the old Lift One building below Lift 1A; the basement of the Wheeler Opera House; space in the old Aspen Valley Hospital building that had been converted into a Community Center; and the pizza restaurant in the basement of the renovated Hotel Jerome.  For a variety of reasons, including inadequate space, space that had to be shared with other functions, and space that was only a temporary use, these prior efforts were very short term and, ultimately, were abandoned. 

October 1991
Aspen Youth Center Founded

As would be expected, since the project began in fall of 1987 and construction was not completed until the fall of 1991, the AHS students originally involved had graduated when the AYC was opened on October 31, 1991.  As these students graduated, new students were recruited to fill open seats on the Board and on committees.  Several Middle School students participated throughout the four years and were able to enjoy, however briefly, the fruits of their labor.

April 2003
AYC Relocated to REC Center

In 2003, Aspen Youth Center entered the next phase in its history with a relocation to the new Aspen Recreation Center (“ARC”) facility located at Iselin Park across from the Aspen School District Campus. In April 2003, we opened our doors at our new facility within the ARC. Contrary to popular belief, Aspen Youth Center is not part of the City of Aspen. We raise funds to be able to remain a private, youth nonprofit.

Including Roaring Fork Valley

In 2010, we furthered our commitment to the youth and families of the Roaring Fork Valley by eliminating the nominal membership fee, making the programs and activities we offer free for all youth in 4th through 12th grade from Aspen to Parachute.

May 2012
Girls to Women

29 years later, Aspen Youth Center continues to provide after school and all day summer programs to youth in grades 4-12, throughout the valley, for FREE.

May 2022
Still Going

29 years later, Aspen Youth Center continues to provide after school and all day summer programs to youth in grades 4-12, throughout the valley, for FREE.

Virtual Programs Developed

Aspen Youth Center was forced to close due to Covid-19 on March 13, 2020. We immediately began virtual programs until we were allowed to reopen to in person services on June 8, 2020. We served youth through the pandemic with summer and afterschool programs, supervised learning and academic support.

AYC + Aspen Learning Center

Aspen Youth Center partnered with Aspen Learning Center to create low to no cost academic support options for students.

January 2022
Education Series

Aspen Youth Center remains committed to youth and our community now and into the future. We can’t wait to see what the next 30 years will bring.