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IN THIS ISSUE 2 Message from YEP’s Executive Director/CEO 3 YEP travels to Brazil for second learning exchange 4 YEP EDUCATES: Celebrating the class of 2018 5 YEP Fest featuring Pedal for YEP returns in 2019 6 YEP featured at Social Innovation Summit 7 Essence Festival surprises moms connected to YEP 8 YEP MENTORS: A decade of mentoring changes lives 9 YEP WORKS: Design Works at Allied Media Conference 10 YEP ENRICHES: 2018 Summer Programming 11 Saints player Cam Jordan surprises YEP

Dear Friends of YEP: As another hot, New Orleans summer winds down, we wanted to share some highlights of the first six months of 2018 with you and thank you for your continued support of our work. In March we held our 2nd annual fundraiser, YEP Fest (a street festival featuring corporate pedicab races), that despite the rain, was a huge success! We raised over $150,000 to support our programs and had a lot of fun doing it! Also this spring, YEP received the 2018 Allstate Youth Empowerment Award at the Atlantic’s Renewal Summit and we were subsequently invited to speak at the Social Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley to talk about our innovative work. And lastly, in August, I had the honor of spending a week in Sao Paulo, Brazil with 18 other YEP staff and young people as a part of a peer learning exchange program with Rede Cidadã, our Brazilian-based sister agency. It was a powerful experience that deeply impacted all of us who had the opportunity to travel and grow together. In addition to these organizational highlights, we have also accomplished an array of programmatic successes during the spring and summer of 2018: • 28 students have earned their high school equivalency diplomas through YEP Educates • 45% of YEP Works graduates have moved onto formal employment • 124 youth have received youth advocacy support through YEP Mentors • 85 campers enjoyed our six-week Kids X-Press Summer Camp

Our ongoing success is only possible because of supporters like you and we are deeply grateful for your ongoing commitment to YEP. Your investment in our work is critical and ensures that we are able to empower young people to improve their lives and the lives of others each and every day. Thank you for believing in YEP and our young people. My best to you,

Melissa Sawyer Co-Founder & Executive Director/CEO Youth Empowerment Project



A group of 19 YEP participants and staff returned to Brazil as a part of the next phase of a peer-to-peer learning exchange with Rede Cidadã, an organization that has placed thousands of young people into jobs across the South American country through their innovative approach to employment readiness training for youth. The trip from July 28 to August 4 was facilitated by the Baltimore-based, International Youth Foundation (IYF) and made possible thanks to the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

where they learned more about the theory behind Rede Cidadã’s methodology. Rede Cidadã incorporates biocentric movement and dance into employment readiness and apprenticeship training. It also prepares young people to succeed in the workplace by helping them discover their personal strengths and realize how these assets are transferable to the professional world. The crosscultural exchange was a major milestone for many members of the YEP team who either experienced their first flight or international travel.

The YEP team started the week-long trip by visiting a few museums and cultural landmarks around Sao Paulo, as well as observing and participating in the programming that Rede Cidadã operates for the city’s homeless population in some of the local shelters. The group then spent several days at the organization’s newly acquired “Mandala Center”

Although this trip marked the conclusion of the formal peer-to-peer learning exchange hosted by IYF, both organizations look forward to continuing the collaborative relationship. YEP is now exploring ways to adapt pieces of Rede Cidadã’s methods to strengthen YEP’s program offerings for youth in New Orleans.



June 15, YEP Educates celebrated the success of its most recent graduating class at Calcasieu Private Dining in New Orleans. The group of students completed the necessary courses & testing to earn their High School Equivalency (HiSET) diploma. YEP Educates is comprised of two programs: New Orleans Providing Literacy To All Youth (NOPLAY) & The Village. The brunch was hosted by YEP employment partner the Link Restaurant Group, which trains YEP Works graduates at its

YE To 39 P 4 ha Ed date T S Eq he tu s he uca uiv ir H de lpe tes ale igh nts d nc S Ea y D ch rn ipl ool om a

award-winning restaurants including Cochon, Cochon Butcher & Calcasieu Private Dining. Chefs Donald Link & Stephen Stryjewski have been long-time supporters of YEP through their Link Stryjewski Foundation. The graduation brunch was also attended by New Orleans City Councilmembers Joseph Giarrusso, Kristin Gisleson Palmer and Cyndi Nguyen along with State Representative Royce Duplessis who all offered words of encouragement to YEP Educates graduates.

Special Thanks to YEP Educates Supporters



Join YEP Fest Chairs Elizabeth Boh, Sarah Busch, and Suzanne Rusovich, along with a host of great committee members, volunteers, and community leaders as we celebrate YEP Fest 2019 featuring Pedal for YEP on Sunday, March 24, 2019. This marks our 3rd annual fundraising event that promises non-stop fun, great competition among our pedicab race teams, delicious food and drinks by local neighborhood restaurants, music, entertainment, a silent auction and activities for kids!

A NOTE FROM YEP FEST CO-CHAIR ELIZABETH BOH: “YEP Fest is so important to YEP’s ongoing ability to continue to provide quality services to its constituents, including mentoring, education, workforce readiness and enrichment services to underserved youth in New Orleans. It will also bring family and friends together for a day of fun and friendly competition and entertainment! Stay tuned for more information and we hope to see you there!”

Save the Date

March 24, 2019 for YEP Fest featuring Pedal for YEP (www.yepfest.org) from 11:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m. in the 1600 block of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard New Orleans, LA



On June 6, YEP Co-Founder and Executive Director/CEO Melissa Sawyer was invited by Allstate Insurance to speak on a panel at the Social Innovation Summit 2018. Melissa discussed YEP’s critical work over the past 14 years with underserved youth in New Orleans. “We are focused on renewal and empowerment at the local level. We have a responsibility to help young people in need realize their full potential,” said Sawyer. “YEP’s work is about letting young people realize they have value in their lives and they can add value to others.”

This year, YEP was the only winner to receive the $20,000 Allstate Youth Empowerment Award.

Melissa sat down with Allstate’s Vice President of Stakeholder Relations and Corporate Thought Leadership Tara Leweling at the Summit held in


Silicon Valley, CA. Melissa was asked to share her insight with budding nonprofit leaders about lessons learned. “There are so many folks doing good work. If you can collaborate, if you can partner, if you can actually just share resources—as opposed to starting your own nonprofit—I would highly encourage folks to do that,” said Sawyer.

This year, YEP was the only winner to receive the $20,000 Allstate Youth Empowerment Award at the Renewal Awards Summit held in New Orleans on March 27. YEP was one of 10 nonprofits who were recognized with awards by Allstate from a pool of 3,000 organizations nationwide.

ESSENCE FESTIVAL SURPRISES MOTHERS CONNECTED TO YEP In May, YEP was approached by Essence Festival representatives to submit profiles of successful single moms connected to our programs. YEP was thrilled when Essence selected Catrina and Laci and two other deserving mothers in the community. The group of women were profiled on Essence.com and were given VIP tickets to Essence Fest which included a makeover. They initially learned about the surprise at a dinner in Central City watching a video recording of Janet Jackson announcing the news. Two months later, Catrina and Laci would meet Ms. Jackson as part of their backstage VIP experience at Essence Fest! Catrina was born in New Orleans and raised in the St. Thomas Housing Development. She became a single mom at age 17 and over the next three years would have two more children. Catrina began attending Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) at the age of 23 to pursue a degree, but Catrina had to stop because of inconsistent childcare and a full-time job required to support her family. Catrina would later re-enroll at SUNO and graduate with a degree in criminal justice. Additionally, in 2008, she adopted her fourth child who was at-risk of being placed in the foster care system. Catrina joined YEP in 2008 where she has been an invaluable member of the team as a Senior Youth Advocate. Laci is 18-years-old and a single mother to her one-year-old son. She is enrolled in YEP Educates working towards earning her high school equivalency diploma. Laci hopes to graduate by the end of 2018. Additionally she is a graduate of YEP Works — an employment readiness program where Laci young people learn valuable job skills. After completing YEP Works, Laci interviewed with, and was hired by, YEP externship partner the Link Restaurant Group. Laci aspires to attend Xavier University where she hopes to earn a degree from the College of Pharmacy. Catrina and Laci attending Essence Fest along with a one-on-one meeting with Janet Jackson.


YEP MENTORS: A DECADE OF MENTORING CHANGES LIVES In May and June, YEP Mentors celebrated the success of young people connected to our programming who graduated from local high schools across New Orleans. Three young men in this recent group of graduates have spent nearly a decade receiving supportive services from YEP Senior Youth Advocate Renell Gibbs and our Community Based Mentoring (CBM) Program. Julien, Christian and Gerald came to YEP between the ages of 8 and 10. Now the young men are between the ages of 17 and 19, and all are preparing to start their first year of college in the fall of 2018.

GERALD + HIS MOM Gerald recently graduated from LB Landry - OP Walker College and Career Preparatory High School and plans on taking courses at Delgado Community College where he is considering majoring in business.



Julien recently graduated from De La Salle High School and his next adventure takes him to Nicholls State University where he was offered a full athletic football scholarship. He plans to major in culinary arts.

Christian recently graduated from McDonogh 35 College Preparatory High School in New Orleans and will be attending Xavier University in the fall of 2018, where he plans on pursuing a degree in business.


Special thanks to Urban Strategies and the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust for making YEP’s CMB Program a reality.


Pictured from left to right: Bernie, David, Katelyn and Ashley

David and Katelyn

YEP Design Works participants David and Katelyn were accompanied by YEP staff members Bernie January and Ashley Teamer at the Allied Media Conference in Detroit from June 14-17. The event is held every summer in Michigan, bringing together a community of media minded and creative people. The conference agenda featured more than 300 hands-on workshops, panels, film screenings, Detroit tours, art and music events along with strategy sessions. The YEP group had an exciting time learning new media skills and exploring Detroit!

“What I enjoyed the most about this trip was being able to see an entirely different city with a different culture from New Orleans. I believe young people can benefit by going on trips like this because they can acquire a whole new perspective on the people around them by talking with people from another state. Another benefit is that it allows for the chance to branch out and network with people who would otherwise be inaccessible.” — David



Kids X-Press Summer Camp

85 86% 91%

campers ages 7-12 were served in the 6-week camp of campers surveyed said that the YEP program helped them to have hope for a positive future of campers surveyed said the knowledge and skills they gained in the program would help them avoid violence in the community

Summer Scholars

35 95% 100%

young people ages 16-21 were enrolled in a 5-week session of participants surveyed said that the program helped them to learn and grow as a person of participants said the knowledge and skills they gained in the program would help them achieve their educational goals

Special thanks to all our supporters for a successful summer at YEP!



On July 13, youth in YEP’s Kids X-Press Summer Camp received an NFL surprise for their last day of camp! New Orleans Saints All-Pro defensive end Cam Jordan showed up to YEP’s Youth Center where the camp is held. Jordan spent about an hour chatting with campers and even tossed a football around on our basketball court. YEP campers (and staff) LOVED it! Special thanks to Jordan and the New Orleans Saints for making the visit to YEP a reality. As football season kicks off, YEP is thrilled to be selected as a Saints 50/50 Raffle beneficiary at the Saints regular home season game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, September 16. We hope to see you at the Superdome!

PARENT LUNCH AND LEARN WITH DR. LIZ This summer, YEP introduced a new series of weekly summer lunch sessions called “Parent Lunch and Learn with Dr. Liz” moderated by Dr. Elizabeth R. Henry (Dr. Liz) for parents and/or guardians of YEP summer camp participants. Over the course of four sessions, a group of 10 parents and/or guardians met at YEP’s Central City main office for one hour a week. With the guidance of pediatrician Dr. Liz, parents and guardians engaged in structured discussions about the importance of better and more clear communication at home, how to help their child navigate friendships and bullying, how to develop their support network, along with strategies on how to advocate for their children. Dr. Liz is a speaker, author and consultant who leads seminars and workshops that empower teens and young adults to overcome their personal obstacles. She is also an advisor to parents and organizations that work with teens and young adults.



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Profile for Youth Empowerment Project

YEP Newsletter - Spring/Summer 2018  

Highlights from the Youth Empowerment Project's (YEP) spring and summer programming in 2018.

YEP Newsletter - Spring/Summer 2018  

Highlights from the Youth Empowerment Project's (YEP) spring and summer programming in 2018.