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Welcome to Growth and Development Services

Reach Your Potential


Founded in 1996, Growth and Development Services (GDS) empowers youth challenged by social, educational, emotional and behavioral issues to Reach their Potential.

In 2002, GDS built out raw space in NYC’s Fort Washington Armory and developed a license agreement with the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to help bring most needed counseling, educational, arts, and advocacy programs to the Washington Heights/Inwood communities. Our program outcomes show that GDS’ multifaceted programs equip participants with the tools they need to be excellent leaders, succeed in college, and cope with life adversities.


The Reach Your Potential Program


The Reach Your Potential Program  provides participants with therapeutic services geared to give them the tools they need to make healthier choices and transform their lives. Youth participate in after-school groups, recreational and team building activities that help create bonds with peers and improve their self-esteem. Program components are:

  • Counseling
  • Reach Your Potential (RYP) Groups
  • Educational Empowerment
  • College Readiness
  • Parent support groups
  • Referral and linkages

The Training Institute


The Training Institute provides internships for aspiring peer leaders, youth workers and mental health professionals. Trainees receive hands-on experience in the most effective approaches to work with peers, youth and families.

GDS provides:

  • Youth Worker Training
  • Internships in Mental Health Counseling and Social Work
  • Leadership Development Training

Community Advocacy Program


Community Advocacy Program is a grassroots movement ensuring the continuation, utilization, and creation of supportive therapeutic, educational and recreational services. GDS fosters partnerships with schools, community based-agencies, and public officials to help advocate for at-risk youth and families and create social change. Participants engage in activism training which promotes a strong sense of self and teaches critical skills needed to advocate for themselves and others.

Program components include:

  • Self-Advocacy
  • Advocacy though Arts
  • Community Activism for supportive services
  • Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy
  • Community Impact Events

History & Mission

Clinical psychologist Dr. Gary Altheim founded Growth and Development Services, Inc. on November 8, 1996 to serve youth who faced burdens including mental health challenges, family instability, and violence in their communities.

From its original site in Westchester County, NY and later in the South Bronx, GDS youth received vital therapeutic and recreational services.  The year-long program continued into the summertime with Camp Excel.  The annual camp, which ended in 2011,  was an opportunity for urban youth to experience the calm and fresh air of upstate New York.

Over the last 20 years, GDS has equipped youth and families with the tools they need to excel and the opportunity to Reach Their Potential.  From its early days of empowering communities in Westchester County and the South Bronx; since 2002, GDS has found a home in the historic NYC Fort Washington Armory.

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