The CYC was inspired by the successful 826 writing and tutoring centers, founded by award-winning author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari, which operate in multiple cities across the country.
Lorena Slager Wenzel, owner of The Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand, and Cecile Fehsenfeld, co-owner of Schuler Books, started the CYC in 2010. For two years, the Creative Youth Center operated as a volunteer-run organization, offering writing workshops and tutoring for Grand Rapids youth through community partners.
In December 2012, the CYC received a three-year grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for general support to help hire two full-time staff members and open a physical space for programming. The CYC moved to its former location on Eastern Ave in 2013.
In 2019, the CYC relocated to a shared space with Jubilee Jobs on the third floor of the Baxter Community Center.
With the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, The CYC team made the decision to move out of their physical location at Baxter and pause in-person programming. Even though the CYC doesn't have a physical space for the moment, we know that the spirit of adventure is alive and well as long as there are still stories to tell.
The CYC is supported by funding from grants, sponsors, and individual donors and relies heavily on volunteer and community support.