"The majority of churches are only open on Sundays, maybe Wednesdays," says Marc Henkel, coordinator for Chicago's S.A.Y. Yes! centers. "That's why the S.A.Y. Yes! centers exist, to provide churches with a way to reach out to the kids they see on the streets after school."
The 100 S.A.Y. Yes! centers around the country are all based in churches, with the exception of the Agape Center in Chicago. Here's Life Inner City staff members are continuously training new churches and other ministries how to start S.A.Y. Yes! programs.
"Anyone wanting to be involved with inner-city youth needs to work in partnership with an existing, stable inner-city church," says Ted Gandy, national director of HLIC.
"Churches are anchored in at-risk communities; they have the trust of the people and they understand the culture. They will be accessible day after day and year after year."
If churches are interested in S.A.Y. Yes! and show commitment, HLIC staff members provide 15 hours of training on how to run a center, as well as a biblically based curriculum. They also provide ongoing training and support for new centers.
"The goal of S.A.Y. Yes! is to raise up indigenous leaders who will pour their lives back into the community," Ted Gandy emphasizes. "We want children and youth to have their lives guided by God, not by the forces of their neighborhood."