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Want to learn more? Check out our frequently asked questions and answers.

What is the Armory Youth Project?

The Armory Youth Project (commonly referred to as AYP or the Armory) is a not-for-profit organization that provides a safe environment where young people from grades 6-12 can build community and be encouraged in their educational, emotional, physical and Christian spiritual development. The Armory is located at 555 First Street in Manistee, MI. 

What is the Armory’s vision?

The Armory’s vision is to create a flourishing youth culture in Manistee County where every person feels valued, finds a pathway to opportunity and has the tools to realize a more promising future.

Why was the Armory created?

The Armory was created to better support our Manistee County teens and their families. The need was highlighted via statewide statistics and a survey conducted by the Youth Advisory Council of the Manistee County Community foundation. Below are a few statistics we are working to help improve:

  • 46% do not graduate on time and 75% do NOT meet college-ready ACT and SAT

  • 56% receive free/reduced price school lunches and 58% live in poverty; in one-parent families

  • Top 10 MI county for juvenile arrests and teen births

  • In addition, according to Afterschool Alliance, the peak time for juvenile crime in Michigan during school days is 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. with 27% of juvenile crimes occurring during this time period. Research shows that afterschool programs reduce crime, boost academics, improve behavior, lead to healthier habits and reduce costs.

As a result, concerned parents, community members, churches and organizations came together to respond in a real way with the Armory Youth Project also known as The Armory or AYP.

Below are a few statistics we are working to help improve: 


As a result, concerned parents, community members, churches and organizations came together to respond in a real way with the Armory Youth Project also known as The Armory or AYP. 

Is the Armory a 501C3 non-profit organization?


How long has the Armory been open?

The Armory successfully opened its doors in 2017 offering after-school and summer programming, mentoring/tutoring, art classes, and substance-free parties.  We continue to add and enhance programs based on feedback from our youth, parents, and community partners.

How many students are utilizing the Armory?

We currently have over 900 youth registered in our system.

What kind of programs do you offer?

Our after-school and summer programs encourage self-confidence, concern for others, and focus on a plan for the future of our youth. We provide a safe and secure place for our youth to learn life skills and enjoy the following:

  • Hot meals every day with a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen

  • Team sports such as Archery, Disc Golf, Basketball, Soccer & Table Tennis

  • Basketball and soccer clinics

  • Creative writing, art, and music

  • Personal support and development through mentoring, tutoring & homework support.

What is AYP’s strategy for reaching the youth of Manistee County?

Our strategy is to develop best-in-class, age-appropriate programming by segmenting space and time at the Armory to meet the specific needs of youth at various ages.

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How do you work with schools?

We collaborate with school administration, counselors and teachers to make students aware of the offerings and get continuous feedback on ways to improve programs and our operation.

How do you promote the programs so teens know what all is offered?

We currently use the Armory website, Facebook, and Instagram as well as the Manistee News Advocate newspaper, and local radio stations to promote our weekly happenings. Activities are also announced daily at local schools and shared with area churches.

Do you offer transportation?

We collaborate with Manistee Area Public Schools and are a designated drop-off when bussing is available. We work with Manistee County Dial-A-Ride to cover costs for students who need a ride home after our programs end. Our staff and volunteers are unable to provide transportation for students. 

How are you different than other community youth programs like the MRA or the Manistee Teen Center?

Our goal is to offer services and programs that are not in conflict with other programs in the community. Our facility does afford us the unique capability to provide physical, educational, and nutritional activities all under one roof. We strive to partner with others such as MRA to leverage this capability coupled with the strengths of other organizations.

What is your relationship with Young Life?

We are partnering with Young Life (YL) to bring their 80-plus-year model to Manistee. We both have a passion for youth in Manistee and see an opportunity to work closely together to help us achieve the spiritual element of our mission without duplicating offerings. Luke Trombley, who is the Manistee County Area Director for YL, is very active with the Armory kids. He and the other YL volunteers donate their time at the Armory in order to build relationships with the students. Young Life hosts events at the Armory and brings in new kids to give them exposure to all the Armory has to offer. The Armory offers a safe space in which we can have kids encounter Christ.


What kind of Christian programs or activities will be offered at AYP?

Young Life coordinates and hosts weekly programs, including Young Life Club on Tuesdays from 5-7 and Young Life Campaigners in-depth bible study starting in mid-October. The Armory also coordinates with area churches that host youth events that are open to the community.


Are you affiliated with a specific church?

No. AYP is a standalone 501C3 entity. It was created to support our Manistee County teens and their families. The Armory was purchased with donated funds raised through Faith Covenant Church and donors from Manistee County.  Today, we are a separate organization with no single church affiliation, but we endeavor to partner with all in the county.


Are you a Christian organization?  Do you make kids pray before activities or force religion on them?

Our goal is to build relationships with the youth who visit the Armory.  We embrace Christian values and believe in showing love through encouragement, a smile, a warm meal, a listening ear, and offering a place to have fun. We are proud of our beliefs, but we do not force praying, religion or any activities on our attendees. We live Christian values and personally thank God for our blessings. If students ask faith-based questions, we will share the good news of Jesus Christ.

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