Growth and Development Services

Since 1996, empowering New York City youth who face social injustice, family instability, and mental health challenges to Reach Their Potential.


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Our Mission

The mission of Growth and Development Services, Inc. (GDS) is to empower underserved, multi-marginalized youth to make unprecedented life transformations by providing them with the inspiration and means to discover and sustain purpose and pride, in themselves, their families, and in the community.


Our Excel program provides youth with leadership development, mental health awareness, counseling, mentoring, wellness courses, educational empowerment, career preparation, advocacy through arts, civic engagement, and public speaking training.


Leaders for Change is the Summer version of the Excel program. Youth participants advocate for positive change in our communities. 


YES (Youth Engaging Seniors) is a therapeutic intergenerational program that uses the power of music to create meaningful bonds between young people and older adults in their community, who are suffering from dementia, depression, and loneliness.

Excel GDS Program
Youth Engaging Seniors
Youth Meditation
Youth and Arts
GDS success story

Making A Difference

Our transformational programs have proven success in providing teens with the skills, support, confidence, and motivation they need to succeed in school, their communities, and the workforce.  Participants are given the tools they need to advocate for themselves and their peers; 100% report improved self-esteem, leadership skills, and mental health awareness.

Reach Your Potential

The Reach Your Potential (RYP) model is a multifaceted and comprehensive approach that is integral to the success and effectiveness of GDS’ programs. Dr. Gary Altheim, GDS’ Founder and Clinical Psychologist, has developed and enhanced the RYP model with his team over the last 27 years.

Youth Engaging Seniors

Youth & Community Members Served


Report Improved Leadership Skills

Days of Excellence and Counting

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Throughout my involvement with GDS, I have personally witnessed and experienced the life changing impact the organization has had on our youth and their families in New York City.


– Cortnie McGinnis, Volunteer

GDS was a helpful resource in my time of need and I greatly benefitted from the experience of GDS which kept me on track. GDS kept me focused while giving me tools to thrive.


– Markus Scott, Program Participant

Being in the Reach Your Potential program has definitely taught me how to project my voice and discover confidence. I now realize many want to see me succeed.


– Lisa N, GDS Program Participant

At the culmination of the program, the participants reported a feeling of accomplishment combined with improved skills to continue with their professional endeavors.


– Yolise Fajardo, Program Partner