Youth Empowerment Project
The first program of its kind in Louisiana, Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) was founded in 2004 and today provides mentoring, education, employment readiness, and enrichment programming to young people across Greater New Orleans from six program sites.
“Our core purpose is to empower young people to improve their lives and the lives of others,” says Chief Program Officer Darrin McCall, LCSW. “The strength of our work is grounded in our ability to build strong relationships with young people, their families, and the community.”
YEP’s unique approach to mentorship includes providing holistic and individualized case management services in addition to relationship-based mentoring services. Youth advocacy provided by YEP’s passionate staff offers program participants the support needed to navigate systems and access essential services.
Because of new challenges brought on by the pandemic and Hurricane Ida, YEP is currently focused on providing individualized academic support and additional mentoring services for young people who have endured the challenges of virtual learning. The organization is also continuing to provide basic needs to young people and families as they navigate through a difficult time.
“We’re always expanding our programming to make sure we are prepared for the next crisis because so many of the young people we serve don’t have a safety net—the support they receive from YEP is essential to their quality of life,” says McCall.
YEP also operates two public facing businesses—a full-service bike shop (Bike Works) and a thrift store (Thrift Works)—that serve as training spaces for 16-24 year-old trainees and interns engaged in YEP’s job readiness and employability services as well as a fundraising arm for YEP. Located on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., Bike Works and Thrift Works are open 10 – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.