“Empowering youth to become LEADERS NOW, while forever changing their futures, as they become PILLARS of SOCIETY.”

YEPhường – Youth Empowerment Program – exists to provide a space for teens to develop self-esteem, social skills, and leadership talents và khổng lồ introduce them khổng lồ new experiences và opportunities.

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“Who are you?” is the question the project leader poses to lớn each teen. “If you can’t name it – others will bởi vì it for you.” With that question in mind, they challenge each person to explore what makes them chất lượng. They are encouraged lớn recognize & name their pain, lớn think about the tension between being themselves versus fitting in, và to question culture’s message that how they look on the outside is all that matters. In the leadership classes during the school year, the teens begin khổng lồ process these questions through self-expression in dance, tuy nhiên, poetry, writing, & photography.


E’nire’ion, a 17-year-old YEPhường, is finding out who he is. His wise parents and an older brother have sầu taught hlặng compassion, the true meaning of life và the importance of working hard in school. But YEP has taught hyên lớn trust & to lớn begin to lớn open up about his own pain, working through his anger and negative behavior. Now he’s ready & willing khổng lồ help others with their pain. His genuine smile brightens the room. “When I light up, they lighten up with me.” In the summer he shares that smile with children in CATCH Camp, part of YEP’s Summer Work Experience.

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The Summer Work Experience provides teens four-day work weeks in an area of their choosing – urban farming, rehabbing houses, mentoring neighborhood children in the neighborhood CATCH Camp, or doing lawn care. This is another way each person explores the “Who are You?” question. A thành phố boy who loves khổng lồ rap chooses to lớn work on the farm, learning a new language about planting, weeding, cultivating, harvesting, và composting. Three girls choose rehabbing and are soon finding studs, using hammers, putting up drywall & taking out windows. Some choose the lawn care program và Nelson Neighborhood benefits while kids are learning about weed whacking, grass cutting và edging. Some choose to work at Catch Camp và they learn lớn look at life with the eyes of a child.


Part of the “Who are you?” process is having dreams about the future. Field trips are taken to lớn big cities like Chicago và lớn museums and universities. Teens are introduced khổng lồ the possibility of continuing their education and to different careers & employment opportunities. Keyvon was one of those teens. He graduated from Muskegon High School và then enrolled in Western University as a freshman. His dream was khổng lồ become a hip hop and praise dancer. Initially, he was discouraged because most of the dance at Western was classical và he didn’t even make the dance team. But with encouragement, he kept pursuing his dream & found one professor who was a speciadanh sách in hip hop. He is now on a hip hop dance team!

The teens are frequently reminded that their dreams aren’t only for themselves, but also for their neighbors, for their community. They are encouraged lớn be a positive influence wherever they are planted.

At the end of this four-year adventure, each teen has wrestled with the question, “Who are you?” & is better able khổng lồ engage & impact the world as their journey continues.

We asked our YEP interns "Why are internships important?" Check this đoạn phim out lớn see what they said!