New Bedford’s 3rd EyE Youth Empowerment prepares to transform 230 Union Street

BY Steven Froias

#NBCreative Writer-at-large

Exciting news came outta New Bedford in 2023 that requires a closer look and follow-up: 3rd EyE Youth Empowerment made a significant move by leasing a building in the heart of downtown. 

As we all know, there’s no place like home, and this announcement signifies a transformative step for the group – and the entire community – as they work towards building a dedicated headquarters for their impactful initiatives. 

A Visionary Nonprofit: 3rd EyE Youth Empowerment

Before we explore this exciting development, let’s take a moment to understand the exceptional work being carried out by 3rd EyE Youth Empowerment

Established 25 years ago, this nonprofit organization is driven by a noble mission: to empower youth in New Bedford and the surrounding communities through arts, education, and community engagement. Over the years, 3rd EyE has worked tirelessly to provide a safe and nurturing environment for young people to express themselves, develop their talents, and find their voices.

In the process, the group has garnered wide recognition and acclaim for its diverse array of programs, including hip-hop and spoken word workshops, leadership development initiatives, and community events. 

Of course, they are best known for their signature event, the 3rd EyE Open, launched in the late ‘90s. After a hiatus of several years, it reemerged as a potent force in 2017 and is now once again an annual event in the city. Among other offerings which define 3rd EyE are Kids Open Art Weeks, as well as pop up events including 5 PIllars of Hip Hop, Dance Jams and live painting at Free Walls. 

Their tireless efforts have made them a vital part of the fabric of New Bedford, fostering creativity, resilience, and empowerment among the city’s youth.

A Bold Move

The recent leasing (on the path to owning) of a downtown building by 3rd EyE is a testament to the organization’s growth and dedication to its mission. The building, located at 230 Union Street, will serve as the future headquarters for 3rd EyE’s operations. This landmark development is poised to bring about several key benefits to both 3rd EyE and New Bedford:

  • Central Location: The new headquarters will be situated right in the heart of downtown. This prime location will enhance the organization’s visibility and accessibility, making it easier for young people and community members to participate in their programs and events.
  • Expanded Capacity: The larger space will allow 3rd EyE to expand its programs, accommodating more participants and reaching a wider audience. This expansion can have a profound impact on the organization’s ability to empower even more youth.
  • Community Impact: The headquarters’ downtown location creates exciting opportunities for 3rd EyE to collaborate with other local businesses and organizations. This can foster a sense of community and bring about mutually beneficial partnerships.

If you build it…

As 3rd EyE continues to grow and evolve, so too does its potential to make a lasting impact on New Bedford and its youth. Having a permanent location downtown symbolizes not only a significant step in the organization’s journey but also a promising future for the city itself.

None of this comes cheap, of course, and now the arduous task of fundraising to properly build out 230 Union Street must begin. 

In addition to financial support, which you can make via PayPal, there’s an even more direct and fun way to contribute to the cause: in-kind donations, specifically work involved at 230 Union Street which would allow the group to obtain an occupancy permit and begin holding in-person fundraisers. 

So, calling all plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and tradespeople – here’s a terrific way to literally build community in New Bedford. Given the decades of 3rd EyE’s impact, there’s likely many alumni of the group who can make an immense impact on the future by lending their skills to this task. It’s the ultimate opportunity to pay it forward. 

If you’d like to help in any way, financial or with your hands, contact them at But be warned – catching the 3rd EyE vibe is contagious and you’ll probably be infected with a sense of purpose and meaning – along with a healthy dose of fun – when you get involved with this amazing homegrown, grass roots New Bedford organization!

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