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Community centres or community centers are public locations where members of a community tend to gather for group activities, social support, public information, and other purposes. They may sometimes be open for the whole community or for a specialised group within the greater community. Examples of community centres for specific groups include: Christian community centres, Islamic community centres, Jewish community centres, youth clubs etc.
Early forms of community centres in the United States were based in schools providing facilities to inner city communities out of school hours. An early celebrated example of this is to be found in Rochester, New York from 1907. Edward J. Ward, a Presbyterian minister, joined the Extension Department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, organizing the Wisconsin Bureau of Civic and Social Development. By 1911 they organized a country-wide conference on schools as social centres. Despite concerns expressed by politicians and public officials that they might provide a focus for alternative political and social activity, the idea was successful. In 1916, with the foundation of the National Community Center Association, the term Community Center was generally used in the US. By 1918 there were community centres in 107 US cities, and in 240 cities by 1924. By 1930 there were nearly 500 centres with more than four million people regularly attending. The first of these was Public School 63, located in the Lower East Side. Clinton Child's, one of the organizers, described it as
- "A Community organized about some centre for its own political and social welfare and expression; to peer into its own mind and life, to discover its own social needs and then to meet them, whether they concern the political field, the field of health, of recreation, of education, or of industry; such community organization is necessary if democratic society is to succeed and endure".
In the UK many villages and towns have their own Community Centre, although nearby schools may offer their assembly or dining hall after school for Community Centre activities. For example, local schools near Ouston may host dance, or sporting activities provided by a local community centre.
Grassroots functions 
Parks are also considered community centers. Another pioneer of community centres was Mary Parker Follett, who saw community centres as playing a major part in her concept of community development and democracy seen through individuals organizing themselves into neighborhood groups, and attending to people's needs, desires and aspirations. This can also include parks.
In the United Kingdom, the oldest community centre is possibly that which was established in 1901 in Thringstone, Leicestershire by the old age pensions pioneer, Charles Booth (1847-1916). Extended in 1911 and taken over by the Leicestershire County Council in 1950, this centre still thrives as an educational, social and recreational community resource and was the inspiration for numerous others of its kind.
There are also community centres for a specific purpose, but serving the whole community, such as an arts centre.
Some community centres are squatted, sometimes rented buildings, mostly in Europe, which have been made into organizing centres for community activities, support networks, and institutional initiatives such as free kitchens, free shops, public computer labs, graffiti murals, free housing for activists and travelers, recreation, public meetings, legal collectives, and spaces for dances, performances and art exhibitions. Those in a more established setting may be directly connected with a library, swimming pool, gymnasium, or other public facility.
Community centers have various relationships toward the state and governmental institutions. Within the history of a given institution they may move from a quasi-legal or even illegal existence, to a more regularized situation.
In Italy, from the 1970s, large factories and even abandoned military barracks have been "appropriated" for use as community centres, known as Centri Sociali, often translated as social centres. There are today dozens of these across Italy. The historic relationship between the Italian social centres and the Autonomia movement (specifically Lotta Continua) has been described briefly in Storming Heaven, Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomous Marxism, by Steve Wright.
Social centres in Italy continue to be centres of political and social dissent. Notably the Tute Bianche and Ya Basta Association developed directly out of the social centre movement, and many social forums take place in social centres.
In the United Kingdom there is an active Social Centre Network, which aims to link up "up the growing number of autonomous spaces to share resources, ideas and information". This network draws a very clear distinction between the many autonomous social centres around the country and the state or large NGO sponsored community centres.
Community centres online are defined as a web based interactive, user-submitted network for groups, organisations, or businesses. Users create their own personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, art, calendars, music and videos to display on their own pages. Administrators provide oversight to the content and approve membership of users.
Urban planning 
In Singapore, community centres are distinct buildings that are officially designated by the government of Singapore. They are meant to play an urban planning role especially as part of Housing Development Board projects. Enrichment and grassroots organisation are their functions like most other community centres, but relieving traffic congestion concerns by placing community centres nearby is also another reason.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Community centres|
- Selfmanaged Social Centers
- Social Centers, Community Spaces, and Squats From "Italy's Cultural Underground" by Adam Bregman
- Social Centre Network (UK)