Community Matters - Youth Empowerment Project (YEP)

Monica Pierre and her guest discuss how this non-profit project helps underserved young people through education, mentoring and work readiness programs.

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Hello welcome to the show Monica a year with few this Sunday's so glad you're here coming up on today's program. People coming tomorrow the streak maybe your counsel at the school so this personally renewed for a summer job training. We will tell you about our youth empowerment project yeah and how this nonprofit. Engages underserved young. Through education. And cheering and Murtha readiness program. How do you engage and serve underserved young people in the metro area. Youth empowerment project has found ways to not only engage would help young people succeed. Darryl McCauley is director of programs with the F Darren thank you so much for joining us today. No thank you for having me how do you Sarah the. Underserved. Yes so. You power project or yep. So we are community based nonprofit organization and we serve. Young people coming in greater New Orleans area. And what we like many different ways but we time divided town it is sort of four different service so that is yet educates yet mentors. Yep works. India and riches. And so we have eleven of the programs that kind of fallen those four service areas by threw it to kind of provide. Wraparound and holistic services two young people that don't know access to us. So user go when that good this concept was they you what was missing and you found there's a cool founders mines that really wasn't. Meeting the needs so yes yup was founded in. 2004. And so we were founded by three women that we're working to do statewide juvenile justice reform work all over the state. Where can help keep kids out of secure facilities users is really. Port conditions on the stage in you know people really need to be kind of back in their own communities and back with their families and so come out of a lot of work that went into the and the early two thousands there's a juvenile justice reform act in 2003. And so 2004 yet started as the first juvenile reentry program in the entire state of Louisiana. And so those are really come our roots would like working with the sort of deepest ands or highest risk young people in the juvenile justice system. Over the years since 2004. We've kind of sort of as we work him and community we release even needed. To provide services to income before that are in the most extreme trouble that they could possibly be so. Before they get incarcerated before there. Someone in northern Louisiana incarcerated. We wanted to have program and services to try to catch from the younger chasm before they you know time makes them. Some of those more serious mistakes and so yep really has grown organically in that way so a lot of our services have become more preventative. More kind of truly community based and so relationships and always been that can happen. Heart of what we do so building those kind of strong mentoring relationships with young people across all of our programs. But. Yes so kind of our programs have grown to include an after school program to work with kids as young seventh. Or to ride. Hi say instructions about what was called the GDI is now Cobb high assess or it's. On the high school equivalency civil drive that. Two young people as young as sixteen. But all the way I mean we have students and their seventies and eighties and so you know youth. Is our sort of focused where you would argue empowerment project but. I'm again just because the need is there in the community I'm wanna be able to kind of soup or folks that perhaps those gains across the board. How do you identify the young people that you serve because again when you say underserved that so a big broad area. All letting and you have those who may have gone through the system but then again we would do prevention. That's a whole lot of people threw for sure how do you get them under your umbrella. Yes so it kind of depends on your analyst how folks it depends on your entry point so it depends on what program you refer to work. You have a need for so it it runs the gamut. And I didn't messing around that last point so we're our roots are really in. Justice worked to a justice work you know now at this point. By about Tony 25% of those in the young people we serve annually. Have some involvement in native from justices juvenile system. So overwhelming majority of folks. Are there because they wanna be map because it judges Solomon being not because you know support or permission officer whoever it may be. Is forcing quote unquote. Someone to be there. But many of the young people are there because they they wanna be. You know gaze he's a positive services so young people coming from off the street they hear from there aunts uncles cousins Brothers sisters friends. You might have you know maybe your counselor at the school sale of the same person maybe needs for some job training or some after school program or some a summer camp. So we hear a lot of referrals through kind of a different community partners whether in schools. They're nonprofit organizations around the city. An and we still do a manner in which we can't deny the fact that we do receive referrals from the court from polish officers from some of those kind of more. Mandatory. Like where people need to be little more economy and it will be involved. But our approach is still the same no matter what we wanna you know kind of express love and care folks and and hopefully. For right answers is that meet there there needs. We're talking about youth empowerment project on yep. We're joined by Darren law called the director of programs that yet I was struck. What I went on your web site and sol last year's annual report and the stories of success or so. Endearing it inspiring that I was really struck by two Brothers. Clarence and Christian can you tell us about them and Holler demise have been impacted by yet. Most definitely yes so I clerics and Christian art to. Young men that have been yet. Price for going on 78 years now and so the two of them are from both participants in our community based mentoring program. And so that's been grant from the program for the last. Probably about ten years those through kind of partnership. With one of local housing redevelopment so you know when knows after Katrina. Public housing sort of shook out. And sort of was resettled as these mixed income communities and so we have. Sums social service providers that we're working. In those cart community redevelopment and looking for some mentoring support so yep was able to. Sort of branch offer far. I'm used that exceed model to rise again coming of those more preventative services. And so clarity Christian words sort of some some of the few young men early on that referred to the program. And Rivet the nature of the program I think corners Chris are sort of testaments to success of the model. Is that the idea was that. So we're working with the young people in the juvenile justice system we've worked for a first six months nine months maybe year the most. But it was taxes kind of a revolving doors so we get young people helped him stabilized they have some successes. You know. Some young people go on to to great things some people coming come back around. Com and so without communities mentoring program the idea the whole idea is provide the same rap brown supported mentoring services. Two young man like clinics and Christian. Excuse me. Through so try to get them young when they're around eight or ten years old but then support them through their high school graduation. So I think two years ago. Claire graduated from Maine Maine. And then this year Christian and that is graduating from. So. The two of them have been awesome I think they've really engaged so there mentor mr. Leno gives. Again just from kind of a staff retention standpoint has been working. In the same program which is relatively the same group of young man for ten years. So just like the commitment that I think. Many of the staff people that we will work with. Have senior people be successful I think is I asked questions I think we. Definitely can do all of the things that we do but especially with the slight really intensive relationship based services. We couldn't do that without really committed staff. Yes of the two of them. You know cart came from. Moms super supportive. You know they had a lot of support at home which is sort of going through those growing pains of being very young man in the city moral and so there's a lot of trouble we doing to. And when you have maybe a black guy and sir not a father in the home and things like that. You know you kind of get into some different things I think. Both of them have had their struggles early on. You know we did. We do weekly groups would honor mentoring programs of both of them. For XP and we we groups we've connected both of them come over the years to our job training program. I'm I know. Clarence did our. One of our summer kind of employment readiness and career exploration programs. I think that's another again there's sort of a perfect example. When the benefits of yep is that. People can have their entry points. But once you can get in the door we have so much offering news you can come to an after school program you can. You know get hi said hi school equivalency if you maybe to drop out of school the school for some reason. I'm with you engagements and job training opportunities and hopefully place you in to a job. Tom all of that with the support of a mentor like like mr. Renaud. Where it was clear Christian. Yes of the two on them and we're extremely proud of them. Claire graduated last year Christian be graduating this year. But I mean Claire still comes around and I don't know Christians there has plans come around Indian held you know the other thing to have executed minus like. You know we lift up these stories of successful we have a bunch of Korean Christians. Have been through our programs maybe haven't been there as long. I'm but they have had the same kind of level of success and and now have the same kind of like. Lifelong connection. Two yep. So yes I mean and I definitely think that. You know sore arm models putting the relationships first weather is educational workforce or or mentoring putting the relationships first I think was. Sort of sets this sets us apart in a lot of ways from other folks doing to our currency. Well this show has evolved into where it's we talking about a nonprofit organization or an issue. But it's something that we can all take away from so those who are listening you may not be in this line of world could you Mina had these success stories but if you working on something working on your dream know that it's relationships bars. It's always relationships for arson it's always service first. And the money and the rewards and the abundance and the will and everything else that you say you're working toward. Well actually com. Let's talk about some of the employment readiness and job training programs because again there about an eleven different types of buckets and expect that fit under all the things that you do talk about some of them and it bit. Regular the bike shop. Yeah after share armed so our. I McCluster of programs and what we call yep works is job readiness employment readiness program in and so. Kind of the name of the game with a our job readiness programming is. Soft skill and heart scale development and so we go about that a few different ways so. Young people in our work and learn senator. Which is coming the programming and those of yep works. A working man senator go for a six week training. In this phase one of the programming. And during that six weeks they are engaged in soft skill Hartsfield caught of course work so the soft skills. Will be things like resonant right or everybody does the mind can you and everybody gets seven closed the door in your view. But they learn about conflict resolution problem solving and how to set some goals around the kind of career and employment I'm and so that's really. The heart of the programming is you know. Of course who want young people on him to you know have some some experience work with the hand to work with customers and all that sort of stuff but. On what we're trying to kind of impart on them are those really lifelong and transferable. Soft skills so whether you're. You know. Radio host or whether you're nonprofit. You know administrator. Teacher doctor Laura or whatever those soft skills are gonna follow you wherever you go. And that you know that's really what's gonna set you apart from. Other applicants right is you're character and your personality and your ability to work we have other people. I'm gonna have this whole thing soft skills cleaning. I think it's deemed most crew critical media particularly when you're building relationships. My glove and another name for the soft skills yeah right. We have is a bit of a negative connotation of that for sure Tom but the other pieces the hearts go so we offered. Three different heart skills tracks you know working and senate. And so that we by super pair customer service. And then graphic design and so. Sort of another feature of the program. Is that com we also operates in the public facing businesses for each of those. Harsco track so. For the bicycle repair we have a fully functional bikes out on a ridiculously. For our customer service we have a fully functional public freezing for a story located right next door to myself. And then for the graphic design we have an actual. Graphic design studio. Staff by. We have full time you know professionally trained in a sense graphic designer. David junior design man tour has kind of been trying to through the program. But then the rest of the folks that are working on those real world client ops our young people that have. Come through the program with the age group yes so it's 1624. Year olds counselor really trying to focus on. Well you know some folks calls like opportunity young people so opportunity you very young people that are disconnected from either work or school opportunities. And so maybe even a finish high school and they've dropped out of high school and it is the college and in finish metres have been named McConnell and that first job. I'm but they're young to a letter disconnected from some of those more from a traditional opportunities that we associate with kind of make that transition to adulthood so. You know are working our senate and educational. Program and are really there's some sort of reconnect young people with those sort opportunities. And so with. Bikes out the first story in the graphic design studios. Really kind of replaced it's is an extension of the training and so we've gone through your Hartsfield classes salsa classes but. You're actually as a part of the program you're gonna get to work NA. Fully functional retail operation. To work with customers in good and bad. Run a cash register to figure out the point of sale system. How to manage inventory. I'm looking at a profit and loss statement so. You know young people are really getting a crash course and we holistic view of life. What it is to work and and as you kind of move up through the program to cover fees. What we call phase two different extra shifts. You know you get a really well rounded view two systems the front in the bath of those kind of operations and down while bike shop lie graphic design I think where we're really happy kind of where we are in the evolution of our work and upper income we kind of have. Something for everybody so young people that maybe lacks some literacy skills that are really really good with the hand that tactile learning. We have the bike shop region just kind of day one. Give him and start working on stuff but then we have some sort of higher and more sophisticated. You know really computer based learning that's happening in our graphic design studio. And then the three story you know hospitality and retail is huge here in New Orleans so I think. You know that's just sort of natural fit because that's gonna be veered transferable skills for young people's. First entry level job. But the bike shop Kyra. What we sort of I guess a lot of weight locked up on is that we whereas I'm and whereas sixteen arteries the castle Haley boulevard. So where Lauren central city there's sort of a niche for bikes. So you know you think about. Bikes or people who are commuter bike commuters and stuff like that. Iraq gonna go way across town if you have issue with your bike because tease you like to get there's news to Buick walking distance. A short ride or something like that and so there really wasn't a bike shop in that neighborhood in so. Now we're kind of like that neighborhood my shot also train young people. Tom and his the job training program run by a process of this kind of and so we get that that support where people are really interested in supporting our mission and so they realize. Think gays with the young people and spend them kind of you know put their dollars where their values aren't so they wanna support people in New Orleans. And they they shop with they get their bike fixed about that I'd like for Marcellus sort of stuff. But in other folks are just like. I mean my bike fixed in this courses like shops with really good balance of both of those things. But the other parishes that you were yes so from some of our two of us contracts take us it's. Jefferson seemed and I plaque from inside out and and we also have office. With a few full time sentencing trials there so. I was right about 45 years ago and we are invited to kind of explore some opportunities to rights and program you know there. We some of the river parishes in the saint Charles persons of interest in some of our program model so. We actually provide we have satellite mentoring programs are community based prevention program that works with kids. Who come through the fins programs this family needs and services. Once I mean direct referrals to us. Yet we and we we love me announcing Charles pursuit come. So out of same issues. But very different population absolutely absolutely what about some of the literacy programs how this yep educate yet this year. Com so yet start from educational programming. Is made up two different programs and New Orleans providing literacy to all youth. And so batters are. Kind of and yes flagship. High school equivalency program in started in. 2007. And so what we're noticing kind of back then is that. After Katrina folks sent come back to the city com and you know that education I'm sure that's folksonomy educational landscape has completely changed from what it was before this arm. And so young we we were kind of noticing young people like. Not being able to get back in the school and have the right records. School was operating anymore. And so there's just a really tough time for folks kind navigating that system. I'm in so. No player in New Orleans program years ago youth was started coming and a little back office at our headquarters. Back in 2007. But you know we know publicity we employ people in first week and forty people in the second week and it's a sort of grown and grown grown. And so now we have this partnership with criminal district court. And Delgado community college where we sort of jointly ground New Orleans and no learning center that was that 139 south broad. More or provide. As well. High school equivalency preparation services. So really anyone's sixteen and to just take it to the 7878. Angry right yes so from a majority of folks you know I was so folks like our our programs are designed for. The C sixteen to 24 year olds in our educational programs but yet if you're fifty and those that design meets your needs like. C'mon we knew we were here helped because we just know that community literacy in general as to suggest a huge problem here in New Orleans. That. I think it would be. You know it just wouldn't be wise and our partners sort of reject folks that are looking for that for that type of support and we also operate our. Village program which is sort of a subset of our larger. From educational programs I'm and so that's specifically designed for sixteen of 21 year old adult learner so. You know when you think about you're sort of traditional. Serve person that's looking for a valid services area maybe. Yet to drop out of school a little early Libya had to go to work and support for him leniency worked for twenty years. Maybe get a promotion and they're going to the next opportunity need to gear you're. Diploma earlier policies of folks will come back to school. Having worked for many years. Have a family have a Morgan dollar sort of stuff. But we really sort of I think we think of ourselves a specializing in those young people that are like. Very newly ex and in the K12 system so they still have a lot of the needs that. Young people in in middle school or high school may have. But they are on this completely separate track. You know adult education's so. I'm still provide some and it and mentoring support in the case management so people can kind of get their needs met outside a school so it can be successful in school. But we do enrichment outings it is summer programming. You know we have guest speakers read. Taking camping so it's really cover a really robust and sort of holistic. I'm approach to some of those young adult learners because he recognizes developmentally. They have different needs than say your average. Forty year old that's looking for. House education and you magic can't suspect can't map cosa. We do camping kind of across the board by. By camera opposes it kind of is our camping program so. Cameron oppose it now lives in our in Richmond bucket of program mean in camera opposes is actually. Sleep away camp for young people between the ages of nine to twelve. I'm have been impacted by substance abuse and and so it's national model. Kind of coined by the the Moyer foundation and so we have a partnership with the Moyer foundation. I think they have seventeen other sites around the country about we have a local New Orleans site for camp mayor it was a and so we going six camping trips a year. And then Monday coming in between months looks every other month for campaign but I'm in between months we do kind of like outings with the young people to engage in some mentoring activities. But the camp is really a mixture of you know your traditional camp activities and Michael canoeing hiking and play games you know team building games and kick ball and had a campfire and all that sort of stuff. But there's also a clinical component. So because sort of the one thing that all of the young people can have in common is that they've been. Impact and really in and broad sense buys substance abuse. We really try to touch on. How do we build resiliency how we make sure that young people understand that is not their fault they didn't cause it. They can't change that they've been impacted by substance abuse but how do you sort of persistence that beyond to be you know multi functional person. When you may have had those experiences have been leaning kind of in the Darren how does the community and businesses support what you're doing what would you say is the level of support from the community and businesses most definitely not I think we we get a lot of support from me I mean we wouldn't be here. I think if we didn't have support from our community. You know early on in yet sort of development we do have. A lot of some support from outside of New Orleans. Because at a time this because of the timing right train there was kind of a post-Katrina. Landscape I'm so there was a lot of investment from you know New York in the West Coast in DC you know us all over the country. We still have some of those partners and they are doing great north of comments stopping and stay around I'm here to support and people in the city. But I think over the last you know prized five to seven years we've kind of made this transition where. In our name out there a little more and I think campuses and welcome. Welcome him with open arms from from the community at large. I'm an act goes from just partnerships for people that wanna like partner whether arson and do programming just for young people I'm. We have a really strong volunteer base so folks that come out. And volunteer for we to a annual. Fund raiser so there will be gone into third years on March twenty force. When he nineteen is our third annual yet fast and Sosa. Petty cadres. Street festivals we have music and food and all sorts of random with a ghastly boulevard. But we have a ton of volunteers that come off that we have bunch of corporate supporters. Com and me you know sponsor different banks sponsors days sponsor race all that sort of stuff. Yet I think you know the business community has been really great not only with kind of financial support that they receive. From our corporate partners of the foundation partners. But also vehemently generous with the opportunities that phase serve analysts to. You know give him there or really create for young people so we ever really strong partnership with a link restaurant group. And so they actually host. Several different extant ship opportunities. I'm for young people in some of their restaurant so. You know people would go through our work island senator let me do phase one or freeze to. Than they have the opportunity go to an extension of where they actually placed and you know a real business and have real position and we we support. The young people through ours support services but also. Paid there wage for a few weeks. And a link restaurant group has been. Really awesome and kind of like. Giving a really kind of holistic. And really kind of varied. Perspective on what it is to to work in the restroom and restaurants are young people again that opportunity. Two were confront a house in the back house. So you know help on the catering business so they really gave it to see all of it during there six straight week in extreme ship. I'm in the first young folks that we sent over there actually been hired. After their censure. So I think it's like partnerships like that where Italy restaurant group goes you know fund raiser every year what were beneficiary of that so it's like that kind of tiered support. I think is just like another kind of just an example of that the type of partnerships and support we have from our. Our community members more folks are not only willing to give there. Retirement money but also create opportunities for young people I mentioned that and to on line up for it last year's annual report so how can people learn more until you on all social because of all the young people yet. Version yeah. Tom yes our website. Is youth empowerment project. I'm so with all star bow down or. Com by yet social media's kind of the easiest way to sort of stay up to date in in the loop Tom so where does act. Yeah Nolan so that's why EP and OLA. So as yet no and FaceBook Twitter insecure am I think Grambling and people use that. Yes so that's that's easy and were costly kind of post pictures and sharing updates on events and if if folks aren't sitting gays and programming. We have a section on our website called access our services. And so that's sort of a breakdown of what makes it possible for which program and roll. What are the dates the times. Age groups all that sort of stuff. Has actresses to all of our sites. Good information. Thank you for being with us thank you very much for him as you might as they get Hillary out. That is a few folks today thank you so much for joining us until next time enjoy this Sunday and the rest of your.