Inside the Industry: Nonprofit

Youth Empowerment Project
PICTURED HERE: YEP Young People & Staff, including Darrin McCall, Director of Programs | Melissa Sawyer, Co-Founder & Executive Director | Darren Alridge, Recreation Coordinator & Para Instructor | Amanda Talbert, Youth Services Coordinator

Across the Greater New Orleans region there are 26,000 Opportunity Youth — young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school or working. In many cases, Opportunity Youth are struggling to stay on track so they turn to the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) for assistance. Since 2004, YEP has designed and operated innovative programs that meet the needs of out-of-school and disconnected New Orleans youth, and address barriers that result from poverty, violence and a lack of educational opportunities.

Through 11 programs located at six sites, YEP provides young people ages 7 to 24 with literacy and HiSET/GED instruction, post-secondary transition support, job readiness training, afterschool enrichment, tutoring, summer programming, mentoring, intensive case management, assistance with basic needs and a holistic set of wrap-around services that are unique to each young person and their individual circumstances. In 2015, YEP served approximately 1,000 young people in New Orleans.

“I felt like I was learning things I wouldn’t really need to use in the real world when I was in a high school setting,” said 19-year-old Seth, now a freshman at UNO studying international business with a minor in Japanese. Seth dropped out of a traditional New Orleans high school because the large classroom environment was not working for him. He found a better fit at the Youth Empowerment Project’s New Orleans Providing Literacy to All Youth (NOPLAY) Program, which helped him earn his HiSET/GED. “I feel like the staff at YEP truly do care about the people they’re helping,” he added.

YEP’s work is made possible through financial support from foundations, donors and the business community. Additionally, the non-profit has employment partnerships with local businesses such as Harrah’s Casino, QUEORK, Raising Canes, Lambeth House, GrowDat Youth Farm, Entrescan, JUMA Ventures, Dryades Public Market, Hyatt Hotels and Louisiana Green Corps.  As a member of the business community, you can support YEP’s mission by making a donation, hiring a young person engaged with YEP, or volunteering with one of YEP’s programs.

1600 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard
New Orleans, La 70113
(504) 522-1316



Categories: The Magazine