About » History
The North Area Athletic & Education Center (NAA-EC) located at 507 Pond Street on the Northside of Syracuse, is a not-for-profit facility dedicated to improving the lifestyles of young men and women.
The NAA-EC has been serving the youth of the Syracuse Community for 16 years, since it was established in 1994. The NAA-EC program is the only free athletic and educational youth center on the traditional Northside of Syracuse.
Ray Rinaldi, the Executive Director of the NAA-EC has been working with youth at-risk since 1954. His expertise as a boxing trainer and coach led to the creation of a strengthening and structured boxing program. He realized that this program was an exceptional means to help kids who had discipline and learning problems. Mr. Rinaldi then combined athletic, education, and counseling programs, in collaboration with the Syracuse City School District and the Onondaga County Probation Department. Through this collaboration we were able to establish a structured after school program for youth at-risk.
Mr. Rinaldi purchased a condemned laundry building at 507 Pond Street; it was in desperate need of physical renovations, with the help of community residents, local business leaders, New York State Legislators, the Gifford Foundation, Central New York Community Foundation, Carrier Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Case Supply and many volunteers, the building is now a full Service Community Center. The Center provides programs for over 1,200 youth at-risk per year.
In 2005, we opened our sister center, The West Area Athletic & Education Center (WAA-EC). Through the generosity of Dominick Tassone who donated the former McDonald’s Restaurant to the WAA-EC along with the many volunteers, government officials and community leaders such as the Unions who have continuously supported the establishment and renovations to create a recreational and education center that is truly an inspiration. WAA-EC now hosts the Syracuse City School Districts Adult Education Unit, the West Literacy Zone, as well as English as a Second Language classes.
Since opening, the center has welcomed at no charge over 1600 at-risk youths including those who have been rejected from other community programs due to poor attitudes and behaviors. We expanded the facility in 2008 and added 9000 sq. feet of space that is being used for boxing, computer training and GED classes.
In 2010, we partnered with the Syracuse Police Benevolent Association to create a program called Cops For Kids. In this program, our local law enforcement become role models and mentors for the kids at our center. It shows kids that Police are there to help, not hurt. The police officers work directly with our participants, giving them a sense of security and someone to look up to.