Youth Empowerment Project


YEP engages underserved young people through community-based education, mentoring and employment readiness programs to help them develop skills and strengthen ties to family and community.

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Category: Youth Development
Parish: Orleans
The Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) is embracing the "Freeman Challenge" this Give NOLA Day and we have one goal in mind - ensuring our long-term sustainability so we can continue to help young people in our city for many years to come.

YEP was one of eight organizations accepted into the challenge this year. We were recognized for being a "community-enhancing nonprofit" with a "mission for good in the New Orleans and South Louisiana region."

How will your donation be invested moving forward?

The first $30,000 we raise today, plus the $15,000 match from The Freeman Challenges will be an investment in the long-term success and sustainability of YEP. All funds that we raise on GiveNOLA Day over $30,000 will have a direct and immediate impact on the lives of the 1200 young people we will serve this year.

What We Do:
Our programming can be encapsulated into four main service areas:
• YEP Mentors (Mentoring/Youth Advocacy)
• YEP Educates (Adult Education/High School Equivalency Preparation)
• YEP Works (Post-Secondary & Employment Readiness)
• YEP Enriches (Out-of-School Time Programming)

YEP provides young people in the Greater New Orleans region, ages 7 to 24, with an array of age-appropriate services. They include afterschool enrichment; academic support and tutoring; summer programming; mentoring; intensive case management; assistance with basic needs; and a holistic set of client-centered ancillary wrap-around services that are unique to each youth and their individual circumstances.

Our Impact:
In 2017, YEP made the following strides to help build a stronger New Orleans and uplift the lives of underserved youth:
• YEP served 1,252 participants
• YEP Mentors - 96% of youth who received mentoring support reported that YEP connected them to caring adults
• YEP Educates - 36 individuals earned their High School Equivalency Diplomas and 65 individuals were enrolled in post-secondary institutions
• YEP Works - 136 people acquired employment skills through YEP's Work & Learn Center
• YEP Enriches - 207 young children received 5,854 free and nutritious meals through participation in YEP's Summer Camp and Afterschool programs.

YEP's History:
Melissa Sawyer and two of her colleagues founded the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) in 2004 in order to provide re-entry supports to help youth who had been involved with the juvenile justice system to build healthy lives, steer clear of the justice system, and remain safe. YEP has since expanded its programming to include providing services to youth who have not been incarcerated but are at-risk because of their life situations. Since its inception, YEP has earned local and national recognition for being at the cutting edge of progressive programs for underserved youth. YEP has grown significantly, strategically and steadily over the past fourteen years. In its first year of operation, YEP had one program, served 25 youth and had an annual budget of $235,000. Today, YEP is the largest, most comprehensive organization in New Orleans addressing the needs of vulnerable youth.YEP's current programming includes an array of community-based education, mentoring, employment readiness and enrichment offerings. In 2018, YEP operates 11 programs, has 49 employees and oversees an annual budget nearly $4 million.