The Youth Empowerment Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, was initiated in 1998 by teens to address the gaps of diversity and youth involvement in the service, civic engagement, philanthropy and decision-making life of their communities. All YEP projects reflect a commitment to investing in Youth-Powered Solutions™ and are driven by individual initiative, teamwork and youth-adult partnerships. YEP bridges school and community resources through several distinct approaches to civic engagement:
- Engaging youth as resources
- Encouraging service-learning
- Decision-making and governance
- Community organizing and social action
- Youth-led research
- Social entrepreneurship
To foster and support youth initiative and a strong representational youth voice in the service and decision-making life of their communities, while engaging youth as resources on a local, statewide, national and international basis.
What makes YEP Different?
- All YEP programs are youth-initiated and youth-led, with adult support for coordination and implementation.
- Through YEP, kids get engaged productively in their community, volunteering and voicing their opinions through meaningful social change efforts as alternatives to negative or alienated behavior.
- Young people develop lifelong skills and values for effective citizenry as they serve through YEP programs as board members for community non-profits or organize civic action around concrete social issues important to them and the larger community.
- YEP fills a unique niche for teens who want productive leadership roles in their schools and community, and attracts many youth who discover their leadership potential through a YEP activity. YEP uses a stratified leadership model, enabling young people to take on more responsibility as they move from middle school to high school and from one YEP project to the next.
- To our knowledge, YEP provides the most extensive leadership training programs available in our area to help teens develop both personal and teamwork skills for success in the real world. In addition to Basic and Advanced Leadership workshops, YEP teens put their training to task and gain invaluable experience as they work “in the field” through placements with community organizations and youth-led community change projects.
- All of YEP’s projects are intergenerational: in some, YEP teens mentor peers or younger students; in others, adults mentor teens.
- Through 44 community partnerships, non-profits and our community benefit from the fresh and unique perspectives only young people can bring to the table. The community gains in the short-term through the services the youth provide, and in the long term from the future roles these youth will play as engaged and productive citizens.
- Beyond Diversity to Integration: Current YEP participants reflect a diverse spectrum of Ann Arbor youth. Equally important, YEP is committed to creating opportunities for youth from all backgrounds to work side by side in a manner that fosters the understanding and connection that comes from shared effort and experience.
Over the years, as we meet with students, both those who are troubled or troubling as well as those who are thriving, we hear the same urgent request, ‘Listen to us and talk with us!! Let us participate in the life of our school and our community!!’ The Youth Empowerment Project makes these cries a reality.
- Ruth Zweifler, Founder, Student Advocacy Center of Michigan
Need more information? We'd love to hear from you. Give us a call at 734-761-3005 or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in the area, feel free to drop by our office at 202 E. Huron Street, #101, Ann Arbor, MI 48104.