Nonprofit | Youth Empowerment Project

Making a Difference, Even at a Distance
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Darrin McCall, Director of Programs

“We are doing everything we can to fulfill our core purpose, which is to empower young people to improve their lives and the lives of others.”

YEP continues to provide education, mentoring and job training to local youth

Imagine a community where every child has access to the opportunities, education, mentoring and skills necessary to achieve their goals and reach their potential. Youth Empowerment Project works to make that world a reality. Since 2004, YEP has led local efforts to provide youth with the support and resources they need to strengthen their family and community ties and, ultimately, to help them actualize the full scope of their abilities. Now more than ever, that mission has become even more important, as the disparities that vulnerable youth face every day are heightened by the current coronavirus outbreak. And while they may have to adjust their approach, YEP remains steadfast in its drive and commitment to creating a better world for young people everywhere.

In what ways are you thriving and pushing forward as a business during COVID-19?

Youth Empowerment Project engages young people through community-based education, mentoring, employment readiness and enrichment programs. In these extraordinary times, we have adjusted our service delivery and operating procedures in order to respond to the pandemic. We have three priorities: protecting our participants and staff, continuing to provide essential services to the most vulnerable youth and families in our community, and ensuring organizational continuity.
We are currently coordinating home internet access and online high school equivalency instruction for our students. Our instructors are offering online classes each week. Our staff mentors are providing phone and video mentoring services for each of their mentees. Enrichment staff will be offering two four-week virtual camp sessions via Zoom, and our workforce development staff are connecting out-of-work youth to companies that are currently hiring.
In addition to remote programming, our staff have been putting together individualized care packages for youth and their families since stay at home orders went into effect. We have also been helping families apply for critical social services like food stamps and unemployment.

How have you maintained a sense of company culture?

YEP has a really relationship-based organizational culture. In the office, we’re always checking in with one another. Because we’re a community-based nonprofit, the connections with other staff and with youth participants are really important to us, so the transition to remote work has been difficult for a lot of people. Now, we spend a lot of time on the phone and on Zoom calls. Ensuring that our participants have the technology at home to engage with staff and other youth online has been a really important focus. Many of us take an internet connection and a laptop or iPad for granted, but access has been a real issue for many of our participants. One of the first things we did was put a call out to our partners and supporters to get as many Chromebooks and prepaid hotspots as we could so that we could distribute them to families who didn’t have reliable home internet access.

Do you anticipate your business will change in any way when the community opens back up? If so, how?

The way we operate has changed dramatically over the last couple of months. We quickly shifted to remote work and online service delivery in order to continue to serve our community’s most vulnerable youth and families. We will continue to serve as many of our program participants as possible through online services for as long as necessary and plan to resume in-person services as soon as it is safe to do so.
Even after this first wave is past, we know that the social and economic fallout from this event will continue for many months to come. We expect that even more individuals and families will have need of our mentoring, education, employment readiness, and enrichment programming. And we are doing everything we can to ensure that we’re ready to respond and continue to fulfill our core purpose, which is to empower young people to improve their lives and the lives of others.


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Youth Empowerment Project
(504) 522-1316

Categories: Biz Forward 2020